Tuesday, January 1, 2013

the importance of giving

Today is officially the first day of 2013 (at least in my time zone), and I want to take a second and share about Catelyn's birthday, which was 2 days ago.

As you may know, my husband and I requested that family and friends let us know about ways that they are remembering Catelyn through giving to others.  We sent out our request through the blog & facebook about ten days before Catelyn's birthday.  I was pretty slow in sending out emails to family & friends, but managed to get the word out a couple of days (at best) before her birthday.

On December 30th, we were surprised to see that we had received just over 35 emails from people telling us of the good things they did in Catelyn's honor.  What a gift within itself!!

As began reading the messages, it quickly became clear that our request, of loved ones and strangers, to help us find joy during such a hard time had a bigger impact than we realized.

Numerous people mentioned that our request of giving to others actually gave them an unexpected gift within itself.  I felt one person put it best when they said:  "By giving love we receive love which makes everyone feel good."

Every message we received was so incredibly touching, and each gift immeasurable.  Here is an idea of the gifts we were notified of: 
  • New or gently used items have been given, sometimes completely anonymously, and even when the giver's own funds were stretched, including:
    • books
    • toys
    • crayons
    • clothing (lots of clothing)
    • bicycles
    • quilts, afghans, & blankets
    • luggage (for children who are in the foster system so they don't have to carry their belongings in garbage bags)
    • get well packages (for children in the hospital)
    • plants
    • shopping carts at stores that require you to 'rent' them while you use them
    • ornaments (to a mother who recently survived an accident that her children did not)
    • varying gifts to those who might not receive them otherwise
  • Financial support has been given to various causes including 
    • struggling family members
    • The Histiocytosis Foundation
    • Project Linus
    • Salvation Army
    • Feedmore.org
    • Toys for Tots
    • youth group mission trips
    • animal shelters
    • animal surgeries
  • Technology for educational care/support was given to a teenager struggling with illness that requires multiple surgeries which would prevent her from attending school in the traditional way
  • Driveways were shoveled for elderly
  • Elders were visited
  • Perspectives were changed
  • Resentments were cast aside
  • Random Acts of Kindness are being offered including:
    • smiles
    • hugs
    • kind gestures
    • kind words
    • holding doors
    • generous tips to waitstaff
    • purposeful consideration (for illness, worry, sadness, loneliness, kindness, and so many, many reasons)
    • prayers
    • positive thoughts
    • Kleenex
    • memories
    • transportation
    • meals/donuts/cookies/baked goods/beverages
    • seeking out the owner of a cell phone that was found in a slushy parking lot just days before Christmas
    • Letters and Cards sent to the ill, elderly, & struggling
  • One family adopted Catelyn's spirit by naming their Child's doll after her, so Catelyn can go on adventures with their family
  • Other drivers were given extra consideration in high traffic zones
  • Grieving siblings (younger and older) and parents were recognized in special ways
  • The Christmas Angel Tree gift program was reinstated at an organization, led by a grieving mother, in honor of all Angels taken too soon
  • Candles lit
  • Volunteering of time/talents has occurred
  • Blood drives have been attended
  • Some relationships have been mended

I've tried to give a good picture of all of the messages we've received, and I'm sure things have been left out.  Needless to say, we were wonderfully overwhelmed by all of the messages we received.

What a gift we've been given, and it sounds like many of you who have participated have experienced the same feelings.

We are grateful beyond words.

It's hard to feel anything but some joy as we read such wonderful messages.  Thank you for easing the pain on what could've been a much harder day.

Each of you is a blessing.

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