A very happy holiday

We thought Thanksgiving ended a month ago, but since we’ve came back to the office after the holiday break, we’ve been flooded with messages of gratitude. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Ms. H. Ms. L called to say, “Thank you for your Christmas gift. It just lifted me up. I was down and this just lifted my spirits.” Mr. B echoed the sentiment, saying that his gift “brightened up my otherwise gloomy life right now.”

For the past several months, the AHH holiday committee has been hard at work organizing holiday gifts for the clients in our charitable and subsidized programs. For many of these clients, a gift from A Helping Hand is the only gift they receive during the holiday season. Funds provided by the Oak Grove Ruritan Club, Activate Good, and individual contributors were used to buy gift cards, and Whole Foods donated toiletry items. Flyleaf Books donated several books and gift cards, the Chelsea Theater donated movie tickets, and Pur Bella salon donated haircuts. Epworth United Methodist Church donated 10 gift bags that they individualized for each client, with items tailored to each person’s needs, including gifts of dog and cat treats and toys for those who have pets. Volunteers then hand-delivered all 91 gifts to clients’ homes. Dusty Butler alone spent more than 30 hours and drove countless miles delivering gifts over the course of the month of December!

Mr. F’s gift arrived at just the right moment. “You are the only person to hold me speechless. I just opened the gift…I can’t believe it. It comes at an incredibly perfect time since we were out of resources.” His regular companion typically comes on Thursdays to take him grocery shopping, but he said, “I was going to cancel my assignment for Thursday since we don’t have the money to go shopping. It’s unbelievable. I still think I’m dreaming. I was just sitting here for 30 minutes staring at it in disbelief.”

When Ms. C called us, she could barely get the words out as she cried. “My spirit is so blessed. People don’t know what you’re going through. Sometimes all you need is a kind face and a warm heart. You exemplify the work of God, you help when you need it most. I can actually get something for me!”

“Thank you so much for the gift. It’s something I really wanted. I got so excited I forgot how to use my phone,” said Ms. R.

Ms. B was just as excited. “Thank you, thank you, thank you! That helps so much. That’s an awesome, awesome present. You all made our Christmas,” she said.

Mr. P summed it up well: “Y’all have been real good to me. I appreciate everything.”

Special thanks to the holiday committee members who made this all possible: Yasmin Amini, Jackie Podger, Clark Williamson, Ana Roman, Taylor Balog, and Phyllis McDaniel.

Want to help us bring joy all year round? Sign up to volunteer!

The heroes of winter break

College students make up a significant portion of our volunteer base. We love their energy, and their schedules usually match up well with the times that clients need help the most. However, during the holidays and other school breaks when students leave town en masse, we typically have to turn down requests from clients because we don’t have enough volunteers available. This year, our volunteer base has grown, and we have several locally-based volunteers who unfailingly donate their time, no matter the season. Their dependability is getting A Helping Hand clients through the holidays!

Karen has been volunteering for several months now. She has one client that she sees on a weekly basis, and then picks up other assignments as they come up, usually volunteering at least twice a week. In the month of December alone, she’s taken 8 assignments. Her dependable service has ensured that many AHH clients can still get to their doctor’s appointments this month.

David is a professor in Virginia who comes to North Carolina during school breaks. By choosing to spend his vacation time volunteering, he helps fill the gap when our student volunteers are out of town. He’s only started volunteering recently, but we already know he’ll be an asset to AHH!

Kumi takes time out of work each week to help Ms. B. Before Kumi came along, Ms. B’s volunteers were mostly students. With the breaks between internship sessions and school holidays, there were 19 weeks out of the year that Ms. B wouldn’t have a companion. Now, Kumi comes each week without fail. Her companion’s visit is the only time Ms. B can leave the house during the week, so Kumi’s consistency has been truly valuable.

Marti has assisted Ms. E every other week for more than three years. One of the biggest complaints we get from our clients is that they get a new intern every semester, and it takes time to get into a routine with a new companion. Marti’s commitment to Ms. E for three years has provided exceptional continuity of care, and allowed them to form deep relationship.

These volunteers have been a saving grace for AHH this holiday season. In the past several years, we’ve only been able to serve 20 or 25 clients for a total of only about 100 hours in the month of December. With the help of these volunteers, this December we’ll be serving 65 clients, and providing 675 volunteer hours!

Holiday events at AHH

We’ve had a busy few weeks here at A Helping Hand! Along with our Giving Tuesday fundraiser, we’ve been a part of two great events in the run up to the holidays.

The Great Thanksgiving Listen

On November 17, Activate Good gathered a group of volunteers to participate in The Great Thanksgiving Listen, a national project organized by Story Corps. A Helping Hand and several other local organizations arranged for seniors to come and be interviewed for the national archives. The volunteers used the Story Corps app to record each interview, and the interviews are published and collected here. Please take a listen – our clients have fascinating stories! Read more