In rare instances, people put their lives on hold for others. For troops, it’s an everyday thing. Where military parents have prolonged time away from their children, military couples have postponed weddings. Many have since figured it’s time to give back. Mother to U.S. troops Michael and David Scott, LeAnn Boudwine began sending care packages to her sons and their comrades. Since 2007, Support the Troops WI has mailed 10,000 bags to deployed soldiers all over the world.
“Every box is different,” [Boudwine] says. “I always tell people when we are putting them together, make them neat and make it a ‘gift’ from you … around the holidays this may be the only box they receive, make it special.”
Support the Troops WI is run entirely by volunteers and shipping is covered by donations. Boudwine shops according to a wish list, giving packages a personal touch.
[Boudwine] goes on to say, “I really can’t believe that we have come this far. I never take for granted the donations … no one could do this alone, it takes a village. Or in my case a caring, giving, compassionate community.”
The group’s slogan is “They’re Still There, We Still Care” — a mantra that volunteers clearly, religiously live by.
In this day and age, it isn’t only lawyers who are offering their services pro bono. Dr. Kenny Wilstead fixed a battered woman’s tooth for free, to ease her recovery from domestic abuse. NFL defender Chris Long is playing this year’s entire season free-of-charge, directing his checks towards education groups. Casual barber Brennon Jones, who gives free haircuts to the homeless, is now working out of a shop donated by a stranger — at no cost, of course.
“Me, personally, I think I surpassed a thousand haircuts, so many I stopped counting. So it’s been a good year so far,” Brennon explained.
Sean Johnson, a self-made barber himself (he owns Taper’s Barbershop!), is Jones’ generous benefactor. Johnson decided to focus on the donation in place of an expansion project.
“It wasn’t about me giving a barbershop, when you look at the homeless and the things that they need, I looked at it as more. I built something and I want to see it keep going and I want to see it do a great thing,” Johnson said.
Set to open in November, the shop will cater to both regular and homeless customers. To many who call sidewalks and park benches home, the occasional haircut provides a much-needed boost of confidence.
When you’re an Eagles defender or Bill Gates, giving back to the community is an easy job to sustain. For others, simpler lifestyles don’t always allow sizable donations. Still, 7-year-old Alex Fischer, determined to help feed the homeless, raised $1,500 by selling Thanksgiving boxes.
“I just thought it would be nice to do Thanksgiving food boxes for people in need. I want other people to have a happy Thanksgiving.” [said Fischer.]
To raise a goal of $150, the Fischer family threw together goodie bags filled with canned goods and stuffing. Besides door-to-door selling, Fischer opted to put up a lemonade stand. Impressed by their daughter, parents James and Lisa called for donations online.
“Your donation is twofold; you’ll be helping a family enjoy a homemade Thanksgiving meal together and also helping Alex learn the joy of helping others in her community.” [wrote Fischer’s parents.]
The whopping $1,500 will feed 100 families, while any remainder will go to the Charlotte Rescue Mission. Looks like Fischer is truly in for some holiday cheer!
People in predicaments will often feel for others in similar situations. When new mom Elisabeth Anderson-Sierra learned she could produce more breastmilk than usual, she donated 5,000 pints to parents-in-need. Having to spend Thanksgiving alone since 1985, Scott Macaulay is treating strangers to a turkey meal for the 32nd year in a row.
“The whole idea of this is to replicate somebody’s home,” he says. “I bring in sofas, oriental rugs and fake fireplaces so that everyone will feel like they’re in somebody’s living room. Then, I put myself in charge of the cooking and some of the guests chip in to serve dinner and clean up.”
Hosting dinner at the Greet Street Baptist Church, Macaulay says the gatherings are less about the food and more about family. Many of his visitors are widows and widowers or single parents. Macaulay’s ex-wife even once made an appearance. After the meal, guests share what they are most thankful for.
“I save all of their submissions because it’s sentimental,” he [says]. “Most people are thankful for their health, while others are thankful for things like, ‘My son is now speaking to me.’ Everything always comes from the heart.”
Who knew turkey could bring people together?