By Leslie Merchant
Have you ever been the recipient of a random act of kindness? Going up to the counter to pay and discovering your tab has been taken care of or finding extra time on your parking meter? That one small deed can make such a world of difference in your day. Imagine what one small treat would mean to someone in need.
Several Thurston County organizations are hoping to inspire acts of kindness on behalf of local families who could use some help just getting through an ordinary day, much less the upcoming holidays. Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County (BGCTC) is one of several non-profits with ideas to help everyone spread a little joy in the coming weeks.
Adopting a family for the holidays is one act of kindness that makes our entire community a better place. And it is easier than ever, explains BGCTC Marketing Coordinator Christine Hoffman. “People can simply give money or they can shop for a specific family with a list provided by BGCTC. $100 per person in a family is the general suggestion, and people would be surprised to know that the money ends up going mostly towards the basics,” she says. Bills, underwear, bedding, and gas money are a few of the necessities that are in line before gifts are even added to the list.
Hoffman explains how many families find themselves in places they never imagined. She says most folks never expected that they would one day be on the receiving end of the line.
“Our program is a little different (from others in the community) because of the open communication we have with our families. Because we are a club, we can reach out to our members and it’s personal,” says Shellica Trevino, Lacey Branch Director of BGCTC. Trevino describes how, in one case, last year they had a young girl in their Torch Club program who volunteered with others despite the fact that her own family was in need. Inspiring people to give of themselves even during challenging times is the ultimate take away from solid community-centered programs.
“Thurston County is blessed abundantly with the support we receive,” says Trevino.
Trevino echoes the sentiments of other local organizations such as the Union Gospel Mission. Laurie Anderson, Assistant to the Director, says that she “can’t believe the generosity of this community. Our donors are so incredibly generous. They go over the top in many cases because they love to reach beyond the provided lists. Business offices, Christian schools, women’s groups, they all get together (to sponsor a family).” Clearly the joy of giving is almost more satisfying than the joy of receiving.
Anderson explains that despite the number of Thurston County organizations that provide holiday services, supporters are always needed and welcomed. “We really rely on call-ins because most of our families wouldn’t have Christmas without the help of the community. Once we serve our immediate families, we are able to move on to the graduates of our program,” explains Anderson. She adds that little things such as paper towels and toilet paper can really help ease the burden for a struggling family.
Thurston County has its fair share of folks who need a helping hand. Fortunately the number of people eager to help appears to rise with the need. Thirty-seven families alone were adopted through BGCTC last year.
The perfect gift comes in different forms for different people. Adopting a family through one of numerous Thurston County organizations is truly the ultimate gift for everybody in the community. Performing a random act of kindness might just be the perfect gift to give yourself this year.
For a list of organizations that provide holiday services, including Adopt-A-Family programs, please contact Sara Kukkonen with United Way of Thurston County or visit www.getconnected.unitedway-thurston.org.