Holiday Cheer 2016

Four years ago I had a mommy breakdown. I know shocker! But something different happened this time, instead of just stifling it and pushing it inward, I reached out for help. Picking up the phone, I dialed a college friend and she picked up. I laid out the mommy drama that had dropped me to my knees and she listened.

Two weeks later a package was on my doorstep. It was the “we can do hard things” sign I had wanted for some time. It was from her.

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This gift made a huge impact. For the next few days each time I saw that sign my urge to pay that kindness forward grew and grew. It only took me a bit to come up with an idea.

See we are inundated with crime, drama, strife, and pain. It is all over our media print and otherwise. What I wasn’t seeing, even person to person, was the type of positivity that had happened to me. Being a young mom you are out on an island and you don’t ge much encouragement. Tons of advice, but very few pats on the back. I had this idea that we needed to reach out and life people up.

Cheer Day 25

So Holiday Cheer was born. I wanted to nominate 25 people in the community and from December 1st to December 25th deliver gifts to people to let them know that there was a community behind them. The point was to just life someone’s spirits.

I decided to put the idea out there and sure enough I turned into we quickly with people sending in nominations and helping purchase gifts for 25 recipients.

Each year this little fundraiser has grown and grown. Last year we raised close to $3,000 in gift cards, cash donations, and gifts. It was amazing to say the least. This is year four and it has been relatively quiet. This year, is the first year I am a bit afraid that I may not be able to pull this off. I really do need lots of help this year.

We have completed one online party and now have lots of thirty-one bags to wrap gifts in, but we only have a handful of nominees. So if you know anyone that could use some Holiday Cheer then email me at mlmurnin@yahoo.com with your nomination and a little about them and get them on this list. There is plenty of room.

This Sunday is the big kick off for donations. I am having a LulaRoe party at the house. The proceeds from this party will go to several of the nominees on the list. They will get buttery, soft leggings and cute little dresses and for those of you that live close by you can swing by and do some shopping for yourself or drop off your donation. If you can’t make it don’t worry; I will post an online link for that party as well. We will also have hand made scarves for purchase.

In addition, there will be Stella and Dot displays and an online party link for shopping. And last but not least my sweet friend Christy who is super crafty will be selling her hand-made signs. There will be a couple on display and you can leave orders with me for her. She is making five for our nominees currently. I have included some photos below.

Aren’t these gorgeous?! I know. Christy is wicked talented and super sweet. I can’t wait to see the signs that will be given to our nominees.

So what do we still need?

We need nominations of course, but also…

  • Gift cards: Starbucks, Peet’s, Target, Toys R Us, Safeway, Chevron, Barnes & Noble, TJ Maxx, Day Spa, Ice Cream, Disney
  • Activity Books for a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl
  • 8 x 10 frames
  • Good smelling candles
  • Cute inspirational signs – Hobby Lobby has some right now for 50% off.
  • Fun board games for 4-6 year old boys
  • Anything you think might be helpful – donations are always welcome

If you want to do some holiday shopping or purchase something for one of our nominees you can shop online with Stella and Dot here.

I am so excited to make a difference again this fourth year! Let’s make it happen. Let’s do good and life one another up.

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I thank you in advance for helping make a difference,

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Prelude to Holiday Cheer

Each year I do a fundraiser and then deliver gifts to 25 people (1 each day in December) to people who need a little extra cheer. These people usually have touched, inspired, or changed someone’s life in our community (or far away – we have delivered to Denver, Utah, and well all over actually) and they are nominated to receive one of the gifts.

I recently received an email about one of our recipients from last year. I didn’t write about her last December because tragedy struck her family just after she was nominated. I waited. I wanted her to have some space to heal and even now I am going to call her Kate to protect her identity.

Kate and her husband, like many couples, had to do extra work to become parents. They have miscarried several times and decided to take one final attempt last year. Kate and her husband were thrilled because she was expecting twins. She was put on bed rest in the second trimester. At the beginning of December tragedy struck when she lost her babies; twin girls.

The person that nominated her still wanted to deliver something, but the basket that had been prepared for an expectant mother on bed rest would no longer do at all. So I found a small business on Etsy where the woman creates angel necklaces for women who have miscarried. The name of the shop is Blue Room Gems (you can check it out by clicking here). Creating a necklace for her seemed perfect. So a new basket was crafted with this handmade jewelry and a hand-made throw. My dear friend ensured that this was delivered at just the right time to Kate.

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Necklace from Blue Room Gems.

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Well, Kate was so touched by the basket and the gift that she took our idea and continued it. She began to turn her grief into energy to help others, as grieving mothers tend to do.

She began creating and delivering baskets of her own to women in hospitals who were on journeys similar to her own. She wanted to gift them hope and love; just as she felt she had been gifted.

The blessings continued and Kate’s story evolved and grew and the hope she felt led her to try again for a baby. Kate is expecting and everything is going smoothly as of now. Continue to pray for her and her family and I promise to keep you updated.

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A display at “Kate’s” house with the framed phrase we included with her gift.

Kate inspired me to keep Holiday Cheer going and this year I want to help as many people as we can. I am shooting for 31 nominations so that we can gift a nominee every day in December. I know we can make it a success this year, too. This is such a wonderful way to give back; because like Kate so many of the recipients pay it forward. This sparks so many to keep giving and hope continues to grow. Our world needs hope and so here we go again with our  3rd annual fundraiser – 31 Days of Holiday Cheer!

It is easy – YOU dear readers, nominate a person you think is worthy and YOU my dear readers can donate, make, or just share this with others so that we can make this the most successful Holiday Cheer EVER!

So how does this work:

To nominate someone: It can be anyone, adult or child, male or female. The person nominated just needs to be someone who could use some cheer or just needs some hope breathed into their life. To nominate someone is easy – just email me a short paragraph about the person, with their name and why you think they should be a recipient. Then include something you think they might need this holiday season. Email me at mlmurnin@yahoo.com.

To donate: I will have several “parties” that will allow you to purchase gifts for the holidays or just for yourself or you can purchase for one of our nominees. Then I use the proceeds of these parties to purchase gifts for our nominees. There will be an online Stella  and Dot party and a Thirty-one party online. I will host a LulaRoe pop-up for those close by. And last but not least the things that worked best last year anyone can donate gift cards, cash, or even sponsor a recipient by purchasing something directly for them. Again, email me at mlmurnin@yahoo.com to arrange for donations to be collected and Like my facebook page for details about the parties.

Get others involved: Share this post with your friends, family, friends of friends, and community. I know if we have enough involvement we can raise more donations and help people even more than we did last year.

What do we need to beat? Last year we collected over $2000 in cash and gift card donations. Last year we purchased nearly $2000 in gifts and other goods. All together with hand made donations and other purchased items we topped over $5000 in gifts for the recipients.

Can we go bigger this year? Can we do 31 days of Holiday Cheer? YES WE CAN! 

I can’t wait to see what happens this year,

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Day 22: Melissa

I know, I know…we are 36+ days past Christmas and I am now just getting up the last of Holiday Cheer. There is no good explanation. All I can say is maybe a part of me wanted the goodness dragged out a tad bit longer, maybe I wanted all of us to get a little boost from saving these last few days for a bit longer.

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Day 22 belonged to Melissa. Melissa is a grandma, mom, wife, sister, aunt, and all around good person. Her daughter, Tara nominated her because she wanted her mom to know how much she is loved. Melissa has been through a great deal of loss and tribulation over the last couple of years. The great thing about Melissa is that you would never ever know it.

She always greets everyone with a smile and is so kind and generous. She lives life to the fullest and is always helping her family and friends. She always makes time for the people most important to her no matter what she might be going through. Melissa is most definitely a deserving recipient of Holiday Cheer. I am glad that we could honor this year with a gift to remind her just how special she is to so many.

Sincerely,

Michelle & the Holiday Cheer Elves

 

Day 21: Livy

I want you to meet someone remarkable today. Her name is Livy. At 22 months Livy was diagnosed with Gorlin Syndrome; this is a genetic syndrome that causes the body to create cancerous and noncancerous tumors to grow.

Livy

In August of 2015, Livy was diagnosed with brain tumors or medulloblastomas. She can not tolerate radiation treatments, so the only avenue that her family has to help her is with chemotherapy treatments. Livy’s syndrome and cancer make her treatment a very rare case.

Two members of the Gilroy, Morgan Hill Community nominated Livy. Her father attended Live Oak High School with one and the other was a family friend. They wanted to do something to reach out, to let this family know that many people were praying for them as they travelled this unthinkable journey.

The Go Fund Me Page sums up their journey best,

“There is no real ‘cure’ for many pediatric brain tumors, many of the choices facing the parents of children inflicted with the form of pediatric brain cancer Livy is facing are ‘the devils choices’ as one of her doctors put it. A few of the largest hurdles you must overcome when you are put face to face with this disease are the lack of awareness, lack of funding for research and cures, and the general support needed to make the decisions that will impact a young life forever.”

If you want to donate this is the link for her Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/livysjourney

Our elves were able to make sure that Livy had a handmade scarf and hat to keep her warm on her trips and stay in UCSF. They also helped get her a frozen dress, shoes and a Frozen Castle. We were told she liked that Disney movie.

We are praying for Livy and her family every day.

Until there is a cure…

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

Day 20: Strength

First let me introduce you to Jane and Hilda. Jane nominated Hilda for Holiday Cheer this year. Jane and Hilda are great friends and definitely teaching BFFs. If you aren’t clear on what that is exactly, this Buzz Feed post here will help you out.

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They have been friends for years, taking trips, teaching together and many other adventures.

This past year has been a difficult one for Hilda, to say the least. Her sister passed away and then her partner, Rodney fell ill. He was in and out of the hospital and Hilda cared for him until he passed in May. They had only recently finished renovating the home they purchased together when he became so ill he had to be hospitalized.

Jane sat with Hilda the night that Rodney passed. Staying with her until late into the evening or early morning depending on how you look at it. Only to be texted a short time after she finally went home to catch a little shut eye that he had in fact passed peacefully.

Hilda is an amazing educator, a wonderful mother and grandmother and the best friend anyone could ask for. She is the first one on your doorstep to help when you are going through a difficult time or you just need some extra hands to complete a project. She always has time to listen to your troubles and will always offer a shoulder to cry on, but she helps lift your spirits and you can’t be sad around her for long. Her positivity is absolutely contagious. Nothing stops her from achieving what she wants to do in life.

Even though this year was filled with much sadness, Hilda forged ahead and has continued teaching in the Evergreen School District. She continues to hike, travel and spend time with her friends.

Thank you Holiday Elves and Gina Guglielmo for donating to Hilda’s gift and helping offer her some cheer and support during the holidays. You were able to provide Hilda with a beautiful wine basket from Guglielmo Winery with a complimentary tasting for two and a Spa Gift Certificate.

Best wishes to Hilda,

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

 

 

Day 19: Some dads are just super

This year as I was collecting nominations for Holiday Cheer, I mentioned it to one of the teachers at my children’s school. I knew she was a long-standing member of the community and she would know if anyone was in need of some cheer this holiday season.

Without hesitation she knew the perfect family. She told me about Lee Block and his daughters, Sarah and Lauren. Lee’s wife and their mother, Michelle,  had battled Ovarian Cancer. She was a teacher in the Gilroy Unified School District for 17 years and just recently retired. And then in September she passed away.

The teacher who nominated this family had known them for years and knew that despite their amazing strength that this holiday would be the first of many difficult ones. She thought it would be great if The Holiday Cheer Elves could do something for them.

We were able to put together a few items for everyone. We were able to get some gift certificates for the movies, Bass Pro Shop and dinner for Lee and the girls were each given “Inspire” necklaces from Stella and Dot, lotions, Beauty Society product and movie gift certificates.

The teacher that nominated them made the delivery with another family friend and this is what she had to say,

Success!  We delivered the basket to Lee, Sarah, and Lauren this evening and lucked out that all were home.  At first Lee thought it was something from us, and then from Rucker.  We explained it was the Holiday Elves.  I think they were very touched….the girls were quite excited to be included in the gift and all are quite excited at the idea of visiting the new Bass Pro store.”

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It is so lovely, that you were all able to offer love and support to this family during the holidays. Thank you to all who contributed. You are an amazing community and what you do does make a difference.

Sincerely,

Michelle & The Holiday Cheer Elves

Day 18: Raya Sunshine

home sweet home

Roughly 7 years ago I met Raya. We met through work; I was training her on a new software. She was bubbly, friendly and it didn’t matter when I saw her she was always fashionable, always with great shoes.

raya

Raya isn’t afraid to speak her mind or express her feelings. We quickly became friends and I learned of all her family’s struggles. Both she and her husband had lost their jobs due to the down turn in the economy. As they struggled to find their new way; they lost the family home that they had raised their three girls in. But always the optimist, Raya forged ahead knowing as long as they had each other they had everything they possibly needed. They moved a few times from rental to rental and finally at the end of last year decided to go on a grand adventure and head to Oregon to start over.

She knew that she and her husband would both be able to find jobs where they could actually live comfortably. Rent in California just continued to climb higher and higher, so they knew they needed to find a place where after earning their paychecks they could actually have some breathing room.

They have only been in Portland a short time, but already they are finding and creating a home there.

Bella, Raya’s youngest daughter, heard about holiday cheer and wanted to nominate her mom. She knew that even though the world couldn’t see the toll that the past few years had taken on Raya, she knew that it had. She wanted her mom to know how loved she was and how much people were rooting for their success.

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This is a sample mug. Visit https://www.etsy.com/transaction/1081209668 to go to the Etsy shop.

 

Raya, was the recipient of Day 18 of Holiday Cheer. I found mugs on Etsy that showed a connection between CA and OR (Bella is still here in CA) and we made ornaments with pictures of the whole family in them to hang on their tree every year to remind Raya that even though family might be miles away they are always with her. We also got her a welcome mat for her new home and a Home Depot gift card.

Thank you Elves and Bella for helping bring some sunshine and cheer to Raya!

Peace & Love,

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

Day 17: Meet Vanessa

“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world” – Desmond Tutu

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Okay so today I am going to get up on my soapbox a little bit for this one. Pediatric cancer is a cause that is near and dear to my family. I know too many lives that have been forever altered by this disease. Did you know that 3 new medicines have been created for pediatric cancer in the last 20 years and that 23 new medicines were created for adults in 2012 alone? And as you saw from the stats above there is little funding that goes toward pediatric cancer from the government or other existing cancer organizations. Unravel, which I have spoken about before is an organization that specifically raises money for pediatric cancer. We need to start paying attention to these stats and to the faces of pediatric cancer and start saving their lives.

Today’s recipient is fighting cancer and if you noticed we had an earlier recipient that is fighting pediatric cancer and we have another one I haven’t yet written to you about. Bottom line there are too many children that are fighting this disease to have only 3 types of medicine to fight it and very little funding to back new research.

And now as I step down from my soap box that brings me to Vanessa. Readers meet Vanessa.

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Vanessa  recently had her leg amputated as part of her battle with this disease. Shaleen nominated Vanessa and had this to say about her, “I have seen some of her journey on FB and it is truly amazing to see her bright smile in every single picture whether she is out and about in her wheel chair or in the hospital bed. Her huge family has been right by her side through this all. To see the love they have for Vanessa and the strength they all have is amazing!”

 

When Shaleen told Vanessa’s aunt that she had been nominated and was chosen to receive a gift she was so touched.  She wrote in to say, “[T]hank you so much. It’s definitely been tough, but she’s still here with us and despite what she’s gone and going through she’s in good spirits. She’s a tough cookie !” She also let us know that she really wanted an American Girl doll. What happened next brought Shaleen and I to tears.

I posted on my FB group page that we needed an American Girl doll for a recipient that was battling cancer. I had two donations within 10 minutes. The sense of joy and gratefulness that encapsulated my heart was indescribable. You have already seen that Elayna received one of the dolls (click here to read about it in case you haven’t read that post yet) and Vanessa was given a doll as well. Then what was even more special is my friend Rebecca heard about who the recipients were and she told her mom who then made scarves and hats for all the girls and tons of doll clothes! You elves are one amazing bunch that is for sure!

 

It gets better…Katie who donated the doll, movie, and one of the outfits took her girls with her so they could share in the Holiday Cheer and learn about doing something good for others. Check it out…

Then this transpired on Facebook after the delivery of the gift and I just had to share because this is what holiday cheer is all about!

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Speechless yet…yeah I was, too.

I know I speak for all of us when I say we are sending prayers and thoughts of supreme strength to Vanessa and her family. She is a brave soul who is definitely one tough cookie. We hope that the gift brought her some joy and let her know that there are so many people rooting for her, so many people whose lives she has touched.

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Until there is a cure,

Shaleen, Katie, Rebecca, Michelle and the holiday cheer elves

P.S. to learn more about Unravel click here.

 

Day 16: The Artist

Life is its own protection from death – Aliza Hubbs

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Aliza, the artist, is today’s recipient. Aliza is a warrior, a true survivor. But more importantly she is a wife, friend, sister, daughter, mother.

I met Aliza in junior high. She was always kind, generous, and lived with such an open heart.

She and I had mutual friends and this year at holiday cheer time our friend Shaleen mentioned to me what Aliza had been through the past year. She had 6 surgeries all while fighting breast cancer, all while being a mom to a young child. I knew she was a perfect candidate for holiday cheer.

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Aliza is an amazing, caring, compassionate, beautiful soul. I am in awe of her strength and courage as she chronicled some of her journey on her Facebook page. She was raw, honest and authentic as she shared her trials, pain, and gratefulness for life.

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I wanted to share Aliza’s thank you card with all of you so that you could see that you do make a difference. Thank you to those that contributed to Holiday Cheer and helping spread goodness this holiday season.

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Sincerely,

Michelle

Day 15: Mom is the word

Moms are all pretty amazing really. How they manage all that is on their plate, how they find a way to smile through the chaos, how their hearts do not explode because of the amount of love that resides in it, and how they keep their sanity through raising children.

IMG_3352Today’s recipient is a mom. Her kids are grown, but being a mom never ends. She has had a difficult year and her daughter wanted to let her know that despite the obstacles she had faced this year she did it with grace and strength. Her daughter was so proud of her mom and all that she had overcome.

We hope that the holiday cheer found this mom and brought her a smile. We hope it reminded her of all the goodness that resides within her.

Happy Holiday Cheer,

Jacinda and the Holiday Cheer Elves

Day 14: She is the perfect combination of Princess and Warrior

 

I am so excited to introduce you all to Elayna. She is absolutely radiant! I first came into contact with Elayna and her mom, Lucy while our family was fluttering in September for Unravel. (If you haven’t heard about Unravel yet is an organization that was founded to help raise funds for pediatric cancer research and you can learn more here). Elayna is a cancer survivor and she wanted to be a part of the Unravel Fluttering Campaign to help children like her. Her mom shared pictures and videos via a group on FB and well…we all just got to know her so well. Her vibrant, energetic passion and love of life was contagious to say the least. I mean just look at this kid!

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At 6 she has already beat kidney cancer and was 9 months into remission when I “met” her via the Unravel Fluttering Facebook Group. What happened next was heartbreaking. This princess warrior was diagnosed with lung cancer. Elayna and her family are once again fighting a battle against cancer.

There are two fundraising pages for Elayna in case you are interested in helping her and her family since I know many of you have asked how you can help more:

Her new gofundme page is at: https://www.gofundme.com/Elayna

Her original youcaring page (which is still set up and working!) is at:https://www.youcaring.com/medi…/let-s-go-team-elayna-/171690

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What was amazing was that a pair of donors came forward that wanted to get Elayna an American Girl doll. Not only did they get her a doll they also purchased matching pjs for her and the doll, the movie, book and accessories for the doll. I was in awe of their generosity. We also had someone hand make a scarf and matching hat for Elayna.

Elayna’s mom Lucy had this to say about the gift once it was delivered,

“This girl is so loved. Thank you so much for caring enough about her fight and her path to want to send her some joy like this. I looooove the frame picture. And the hat and scarf are sure to be favorites right away. 💕 Elayna has never had a “real” doll before and it was hilarious to see that she didn’t know what you did with one at first when she unwrapped Kit. When I explained all the things you could do with her (and that she came with a story and all) she said ‘Can you even put pjs on them?’ And I said, ‘I’m sure we can get pjs someday for her.’ Then she couldn’t stop smiling and giggling when she opened the pajamas next. Ha! Please thank everyone who was involved in Elayna’s gifts. We are so touched by the generous spirit.”

Thank you so much, Holiday Cheer Elves: Bella, Kim and Rebecca for bringing a smile to Elayna’s face.
All of the Holiday Cheer Elves are praying and cheering for Team Elayna.
Sincerely,
The Holiday Cheer Elves

Day 13: The difference a teacher can make

IMG_3317I know it is way past Christmas and I am just writing Day 13 and I hope our recipient will forgive me and the recipients after for that matter for the tardiness of these posts.

Day 13 belongs to a person who does what she does each and every day to the best of her ability without want or need for a thank you. She is a teacher. She teaches third grade at a local elementary school.

Mrs. Gamm is quiet, reserved and hard working. She truly hopes to impart knowledge and knowledge finding skills to her students, but what I find most impressive is that she still believes that the classroom is a place where you teach citizenship, kindness, manners and compassion. She believes that it is part of the curriculum to teach her students life skills.

While she is a stickler for grammar, neatness and a good work ethic from her students she also assigns a Random Act of Kindness as a homework assignment weekly. This can be something small or big; it is up to the student, but they are required to find ways to be helpful at home and in the community because that is what good citizens do.

She always has time to talk or work with students after school and makes sure to include families in all of the class events. Her work is her passion.

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Handmade card by DeAnna.

When I met Mrs. Gamm three years ago, I was quickly put at ease by her down to earth manner and authenticity. She is such a true and genuine soul. It was such an honor to be able to deliver her gift.

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Scarf, lotions, Starbucks and Barnes and Noble gift cards.

She was so surprised that she was nominated. She could not believe that she was a recipient. I told her that is what Holiday Cheer is about. It is about taking time to make sure that people who are just being themselves, doing what they do every day, know that they make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others. That they truly are spectacular just being who they are.

Thank you, Mrs. Gamm for the difference you make each year for so many. Our world is a better place because of what you do each and every day.

Sincerely,

The Holiday Cheer Elves

 

Day 12: Helping Single Mamas is our Game

Good morning sweet readers,

I am sure you know it is Christmas Eve and that I am only writing Day 12. Well let’s just say that the spirit of Christmas will get to live on in this blog until after it passes. I will write about each and every delivery, I assure you.

Right now let’s turn our focus to day 12’s recipient. She was nominated by Jacinda. Stacy is a special needs teacher for Gilroy Unified School District who also happens to be a single mom. She has been working hard to help her children and herself have a stable life. The last few years have not been easy to say the least.

But they had great news this month and were finally able to move into a home on December 15th. We wanted to add to that good cheer by bringing them some extra goodies for their family.

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Because of all of you we were able to deliver toys, gift cards, and a beautiful handmade sign. This wouldn’t be possible without all of you.

Stacy is the good in the world and so are you. Bringing you all together to spread kindness and cheer is really what this season is all about. I wish you a very Merry Christmas today and thank you from the bottom of my heart that you were able to deliver this holiday cheer to Stacy and her family.

Happy Holidays,

The Holiday Cheer Elves

 

Day 11: Sweet little family

Day 11 belongs to a sweet little family of one mama doing everything all on her own and two sweet boys. This single mama is beyond amazing and has the strength of a warrior, but then again all single mamas do. But, this single mama is also helping one of her sons battle Leukemia. It has become difficult for her to work as she is busy taking her son to all of his treatments. So this year her friend, Lindsay, wrote to me to see if we could send something to her to let her know that there are people praying for her and her sweet little family.

You all really delivered for our families in need in this year. For Michelle and her boys we were able to supply Minecraft Legos and shirts for both boys. They also received two books each. With your donations we were able to send Michelle Vons gift cards to help with groceries, a gas gift card, a Spa Finder gift card, and a Target gift card. Hopefully our donations were able to make the month of December a tad bit easier and joyful for her and her family.

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Michelle, our warrior mama, we send you prayers and strength to help you as you battle for your son. You are an everyday hero and we hope that our little gift made your December just a tad bit cheerier.

Sincerely,

The Holiday Cheer Elves

Holiday Cheer Day 6: A guest post from Tiff

YouAreLoved_Black_8x10_HappyHippoArts (1)For today’s nominee I would like to share the nomination letter that was submitted by Tiff about Stephanie. Tiff relays why Stephanie needed Holiday Cheer:

“This recipient is an extraordinary lady. She is an amazing mom, daughter, friend, wife, sister and all around phenomenally loving spirit. She manages to keep this incredible beaming kinetic energy, and awesome sense of humor, and joy for life even during the rockiest of times. She has dealt with an exceptionally tough year, with some financial and medical issues that would have knocked anyone of the Avengers to their knees, but she has weathered it with an open and loving heart. For this reason , I was very excited to be able to nominate her.

She is one of those people that spend her time making sure that she has taken care of all the people around her that she loves. She is always taking care of everyone else, sometimes to the exclusion of herself. Her kids are such great, bright, centered little guys, and it is because she gives them balance and strength, and a soft, safe place to land when times get rough. She is the kind of mom who lets them be themselves , and reminds them that they don’t need to let anyone else define them.

She has also directed that same sense of light and love toward her other family members and friends. She is that mom who you would go to for shelter, for help, or just if you needed to whine about something. My gratitude for this woman is huge. My respect for how she lives her life as a go-er, a do-er and a mama-bear extraordinaire is unending. She has talked me off many anxiety ledges and has been such a comfort; a true friend when I was feeling isolated and alone. 

Her effect on all the other people around her is deep and profound. I don’t think she realizes how much she truly does impact so many of us. I think this was a way to let her know how very much she is loved and appreciated. She has this gift of turning her burden into blessings on a daily basis and in doing so she is teaching her boys and all the rest of us an invaluable lesson: Cherish what you have right now…the rest of the story will play out in its own good time. Thanks for the lesson, my friend.”

Not only does this beautiful letter describe our recipient perfectly, more magic happened with this nomination when a local hair stylist, Patty Ann came forward asking to help out a whole family. She wanted to donate to a family because she had known hardship herself and had received kindness. She took this as an opportunity to pay it forward. Patty Ann (shown below) collected a grocery gift card, and herself bought a tree, Vans gift cards for the boys, a cut and color for Stephanie, and dinner and movie out. Patty Ann is also an extraordinary person and that these two selfless women were connected through Holiday Cheer is so very touching to me.

So cherish what you have,

Tiff & Patty Ann