Prelude to Holiday Cheer

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 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.

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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

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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.

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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

Ring it out, baby! Last lessons of 2015

Ring it out, baby! Last lessons of 2015

38. Yep in 12 days and roughly 5 hours I will be 38. My odd years (When my age is odd, not when I am odd. See I know what you are thinking.) have somehow always been my best. However, 2015 took its toll on me personally. I am not sure how you feel about 2015; I hope it was good to you, but most people I run into had a heck of a year even on a small scale. Don’t get me wrong I am a glass half full person, and my family and I are truly blessed, but this year had hiccup after hiccup. I am grateful for the hiccups for sure and I focused on the positives; that is where my lessons are coming from, but if you noticed I wrote a lot less this year. The reason for that was every time I sat down to write I wanted to vent about how much things stunk or how bad I felt this year about well; everything. Don’t worry I am not going to do that now, but what I am hoping for, for each and every one of us is a wonderful 2016.

Here are my lessons to close out 2015…

1.Get off the sidelines.

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At my daughter’s 9th birthday I noticed that a lot of the girls started out shy and sat on the sidelines. We had it at one of those make over places, but they also have a stage and microphones. Once my daughter was finished with her make over she threw on a boa and got right up on that stage and sang her little heart out. Some of the other girls followed her lead; those girls had a blast at the party. What she taught me is that you need to jump right in with both feet and live. There is no living done on the sidelines; nope. You have to go for it. So in 2016 I am all in baby…are you with me? Except for sky diving you can go do that yourself because seriously what sane person jumps out of a perfectly good airplane?!

2. Great people do things before they are ready.

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I think Amy Poehler and I would be the best of friends. Seriously if you know Amy you should have her call me; we would be BFFAEs (Best Friends Forever and Ever)! Seriously, I am not in the least bit kidding; if you know her call her I totally want to meet her.

Any way after reading Yes Please (yes you should take the time and read it for 2016 if you haven’t) and binge watching Parks and Recreation in my spare time I think she is my own personal guru. Two things I have learned from her and Ron Swanson are:

  • Great people do things before they are ready – seriously you can’t plan out the future. Life is bumpy and unexpected crap jumps out at you every single second (not really, but you get what I mean) and you just have to go after your dreams. If you don’t start now then when?
  • Also my personal favorite, “don’t half ass two things; whole ass one thing.” That is my favorite line from Parks and Recreation to date. There is even a mug and if you don’t know what to get me for my birthday get me that – don’t worry about duplicates either if I had a whole stinking set of those I would literally be the richest person in the world and Amy Poehler would be super impressed when I got them to pour our Vodka and Cranberry Cocktails into when she came over.  You thought they were for coffee didn’t you…so silly mugs can be used for everything. A good friend told me just about a whole bottle of wine fits into one of the travel Starbucks mugs in case you need to know that for your next Trick-or-treating excursion. Just saying. Plus they would totally go with my Duck Dynasty bobbleheads.

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3. Even if things seem sucky they are totally worth it.

IMG_3559 (1)So our Newport Beach Thanksgiving Vacation was a bit crazy. For starters we parked our car with the valet at dinner on one of the first nights there and they lost our keys. Then within a day the norovirus (more affectionately named Kim-O-Rea after patient zero) ran through 19 of the 23 of us. But despite the lost keys and vomit we had a pretty good time. We took bike rides, played on the beach, spent time playing games, had Thanksgiving dinner on the beach, saw a movie and went bowling. And the cousin time with the kids was priceless. So even though we may have stayed in the worst rental ever (on the inside – it was filthy) the time we spent together and the memories we made were totally worth it. Plus I got this awesome picture of me with Zach; win win! Or as Zach says…BOOM!

4. I love snow and the place I call home.

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I know you are wondering how I love snow is a lesson. Well just keep reading and you will see.

Our family made a trip to Salt Lake City for my grandmother’s memorial services and it snowed. Arriving there and seeing all the sites is so relaxing. Even though I only lived there for 3 years; literally from 0-3, it is home to me. It is the one place in the world that actually feels like I belong 100%. I love just about everything about it. I know that the snow made travel a bit hard and it was really cold, but I can’t help thinking my grandma knew how much I loved the snow; how much I loved home blanketed in snow and she made sure that it was covered in it just in time for us to be there. This made me realize that even if there isn’t always someone to go home to that maybe just the place needs to be visited to sooth your soul to feel that welcoming feeling. So I guess that means that you need to find that place that feels like home and visit it if you aren’t already there. See that is kind of lesson worthy.

5. Find your happy.

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Find your happy – whatever it might be. Maybe it’s a person; like these two pictured here. They are blissfully happy when they are together. Or maybe it’s a good cup of coffee or maybe it is a long hike. Whatever it is find it and make sure it becomes a part of your life on a regular basis. Life is hard and you need to make time for what makes you happy.

6. Keep going…

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The Barista at Starbucks wrote “good job on your 5k” on my cup – proof that I actually looked like I ran the whole thing. Which I totally did, even though my 11 year old son beat me by 10 minutes.
Sometimes you are your own worst enemy or at least I am. I want to be healthier and I want to be able to run 9 miles again. I will do that in 2016, but I know it will be one of the hardest things that I do to accomplish that again. I had to put all my focus and energy into it when I did it last time and this time I am busier and somehow more exhausted, but I must keep going. In 2015 the farthest I got was 5 miles and 20 pounds heavier. 2016 is going to be different. I hope you go after what you want in 2016, too. And I hope no matter how hard it might be that you achieve it.

7. Little things…

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Mother Theresa said do small things with great love. I have mentioned her before, I know. She is kind of a big deal. Any way I put that into action three years ago with the 25 days of Holiday Cheer and then adding to that by doing 36 random acts of kindness for my birthday and then the next year Fluttering for Unravel. So I took a trip down my Facebook feed (that is what memory lane is these days) and saw that most of what I do these days is small things with great love. I cannot tell you how much that helps me. See I am human and I mess up; rather a lot really. But doing things for others in small steps and sharing that with others has changed my life in such a drastic way. This is something that will continue through 2016 and if you have an idea about how to help others – go for it because amazing things happen.

8. You get old.

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This is my son…I cannot be old enough to have a son this age!
Holy Freaking Fruitloops kids put the fast forward button on your life. I cannot believe I have been a mom for over a decade and that my 20 year high school reunion is in 2016. That math doesn’t compute with how I feel, but that doesn’t change the fact that you get old. I have decided instead of being bummed about getting old I am going to enjoy it. I am going to love each day and what it brings. Of course crappy things happen when you age and there is more death than you ever wanted to face ever, but there are cool things, too. Like watching your kids become grown people and getting to stay up as late as you want and being able to drink alcohol in a mug that says “whole ass one thing” if that isn’t icing on the freaking age cake I don’t know what is.

9. Marriage matters.

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So as my husband was calmly putting together a doll house this Christmas Eve (yes that doll house above had more pieces than you can imagine) and we spent until 1:30 AM putting the final touches on Christmas; it really hit home what a good team we are. My husband, yes I know I have talked about him before as well, is just pretty amazing. He helps around the house, he is a hands on dad, and he works so hard to provide for our family. But we are a team and marriage is hard work. We went out a couple times just the two of us this year (I know I had a post about date night once a month-it didn’t happen) and we are still best friends. Yes of course at first the kids dominate the conversation, but we have found that our marriage is the key foundation to our family and it needs work to make sure that the family stays sturdy. In 2016 I am going to make sure I let him know how important he is and how much I appreciate all he does for us. And more importantly, I am going to make sure I let him know how awesome I am and that together we are like the Dream Team. Too much? Okay, well you get the idea.

10. Being a twin mom…

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I get it, I do…they are stinking cute and tons of fun. They also can cause quite a ruckus and I have blamed a lot of my failing memory, lack of sleep, disorganized ball dropping behavior on being a twin mom. And in 2016 that will not change. Having 4 kids is enough to drive one woman bat shit crazy. I love them dearly and I wouldn’t want my life any other way, but it is totally their fault that I am a completely different human than I was 10 years ago. It is completely their fault that I am losing my mind, but it is also completely their fault that I am a way better human than I was a decade ago. It is completely their fault, all four of them, that I know and understand a love that can’t be explained with words. I understand what it means to be selfless because of them. So even though I blame them 100% I also thank them 100% for all that they have done to help me become who I am today.

I wish you and yours a blessed and prosperous 2016.

Sincerely,

Amy Poehler’s BFFaE

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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

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

 

Holiday Cheer Day 6: A guest post from Tiff

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

 

Holiday Cheer Day 5:Selfless

IMG_3242 (1)Our nominee for day five is Karin. Karin has recently become the primary caregiver for her mother who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She has selflessly opened up her home to both her mother and father while her mother battles this disease.

Despite what Karin is going through on a personal level, she always remains positive and upbeat. If you didn’t know about her personal life and were just meeting her, you would never know what she was going through. She never complains and is always ready to listen to others and help where she can.

Karin, also opens up her home to other members of her family as they need it. This past summer her niece was living with her. It is just second nature to Karin to help others when they are in need.

Our Holiday Cheer Elves were able to get her a little de-stress gift basket with relaxing lotions, beauty supplies, candles, a spa gift card, wine and a homemade scarf. We hope that she can take a little time to herself and know that she is an everyday hero.

Sincerely.

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

Day 4: Holiday Blessings

Day 4: Holiday Blessings

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Today is the first day I cried tears of joy for what you were all able to accomplish. A single father of two, who coaches multiple sports and works multiple jobs to make ends meet was our recipient.

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I will never forget the first time I met Rick. Our sons happened to be in the same class together. I was attending Back to School Night and as we were walking out of the classroom his son held the door open for me and waited for me to exit the classroom. I was in awe of the eight-year-old gentleman that held the door open for me. It was Rick’s son. When I complimented Rick on his son he was incredibly humble.

Being a dad is what makes Rick the most proud and he puts everything he has into being a good father and provider for his family. His kids are truly an example of what a great father he is. They are hard workers, dedicated athletes, and bright scholars.

This past year has been a bit tougher and two of his friends wanted to help ease the stress for him. They were able to do that tonight when they delivered our goodies; donations you helped provide. When I talked to one of them after the delivery tonight and heard how touched Rick was I teared up. Knowing that our gift made such a big difference for someone and will make their holiday easier is such a blessing.

Rick, you are a man of value. Everything you do, you do with the best intentions and honor. We wish you and your family a very, happy holiday.

Peace and Love,

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

Day 2 of 2015: She is love

Day 2 of 2015: She is love

IMG_3232Today’s recipient was Miss Karen, or at least that is how many in our community know her. Miss Karen is a local preschool teacher and retired fire fighter. She is a mother, friend, wife, sister and beloved daughter.

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Karen loves her students and treats each of them as if they were her own child. She is a treasured friend. I hardly ever see her without a friend by her side and if you know her, you know why. She has the most beautiful light that shines right out of her soul. She is always smiling, always optimistic and puts others first.

Karen recently dropped everything and stepped outside of her life for 8 weeks to care for her mother. Unfortunately those weeks ended with the loss of her mother.

What amazes me about Karen is that even though she is coping and learning to live with loss she still maintains her optimistic outlook. She is still radiating with a warm and glowing light that draws you right in.

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Thank you, Miss Karen for just being you and bringing light and goodness into the world. All those that know you or have come into contact with you leave changed for the better.

Bless you this holiday season,

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

Look at this cool box of goodness filled with lots of beautifying gifts…

An artistic start to Holiday Cheer 2015

An artistic start to Holiday Cheer 2015

Noelle is anything but ordinary. At just 13 years old, Noelle is an accomplished singer and a budding artist. But that is not all, she is wise and humble for her age as well as exceptionally bright and well rounded. Her gracious heart and shy smile make her an easy person to get to know. You immediately feel at ease around her. She is involved in the community and participates in several charitable causes. Her father is a fire fighter and their family is deeply involved in the community and giving back is just a way of life for her.

But what strikes me the most about Noelle is the tenacity with which she chases her dreams. It is palpable. Her drive and success gives hope to others who are pursuing their dreams as well.

Unfortunately, tragedy is no stranger to Noelle and her family. Her sister was in a fatal car accident earlier this year. But, Noelle’s maturity guides her through her darkest days and somehow she continues to spread light and hope to others through her music and art.

On November 1st, her mother shared a Día de los Muertos free hand drawing that Noelle drew in honor of her sister.

Noelle's freehand

It touched me so deeply that it was in that moment I knew that our Holiday Cheer needed to reach her in the same way that she was reaching out to others through her art.

Noelle’s artistic ability is also demonstrated through her vocals in the local band, Head Strong, which has performances throughout the community. (Click here to read more about her band). Noelle is even performing at the Tree Lighting Ceremony in downtown Gilroy this Saturday, December 5th. She will be on the main stage at 6:30.

santa gilroyIf you can’t make it to see her live she does have a You Tube Channel that you can subscribe to. This is a recent video she recorded:

It was such an honor and treat to get to meet with her and her parents earlier this evening to deliver the very first gift of 2015’s Holiday Cheer. Noelle was humble and poised as I gushed about her amazing attributes and ability to spread hope despite what she is going through at her young age.

Our group put together a basket of art supplies, a gift card to purchase more art supplies, the letter N in lights because her name should always be in lights, and a few little beauty items.

IMG_3226

It was a small token to just let her know she is making her mark in the world and her imprint is vast. She is touching so many lives with her beautiful soul.

Thank you Holiday Cheer Elves for your donations and your contribution to making a little something special for sweet, Noelle.

Sincerely,

Michelle & A Circle of People Who Care (otherwise known as the Holiday Cheer Elves)

 

 

Cheer Day 27

Cheer Day 27

Day 27

On today, Day 27, our nominee is Tricia. Tricia is a mom of three littles and was nominated by Kim. Kim has known Tricia for over 10 years. Tricia’s middle child, a daughter, Lexi Faith was diagnosed with a brain tumor late this year. Lexi’s most recent MRI shows that the mass in her brain may not be a tumor at all, but another MRI and EEG will tell the doctors at Stanford and her family more.

 

Lexi was diagnosed with Panayiotopoulos Syndrome. To put it simply it is a type of epilepsy and its onset comes between 3 and 5 years of age. Someone afflicted with Panayiotopoulos Syndrome will have seizures. Two thirds of these seizures will most likely take place during sleep. Seizures are mostly infrequent and medicine is prescribed for treatment.

There is a FB page that chronicles Lexi Faith’s journey feel free to check it out: www.facebook.com/pages/Prayers-for-Lexi-Faith.

Day 27 gift

Kim wrote to tell me that she is in awe of Tricia’s strength, love and positive attitude. I am in awe of her deep faith. Our prayers go our to Lexi,Tricia and the whole family.

lexi faith

Love to you all,

The Cheer Squad

 

Cheer Day 24

Cheer Day 24

Enjoy Today

Today as we prepare for the nearing end of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season I find it fitting that our recipient today is a grandmother who has seen many a holiday season come to pass and greeted each one with love and a giant Christmas Spirit. My dear friend, Kim wanted to nominate her grandmother for her never-ending strength and faith. Kim’s handwritten letter of why her grandmother should be a recipient touched my heart. I share that with you today:

“Dear Michelle,

I would like to nominate my grandma. My entire life she has always been there for anyone and everyone. She was a second grandma to many many children. She was involved in the support and financial aid of our local teen challenge, and many other organizations. She has so many struggles throughout her life, yet she always stood tall and kept her faith strong. Even when her husband passed and two of her kids moved away eight months later she stayed positive and strong not only for herself, but for the entire family. I see her as my second mother, she is my hero, my rock…my angel. Always forgiving, non-judgmental, and forever loving and supportive she is my amazing grandma. I thank God for her everyday she is here with us. I could go on forever but then I would be a bigger bawling mess and this would end up a novel. 

Thank you,

Kim”

Cheer Day 24

Kim, I was crying right there with you and I know many of the readers will be teary eyed as well. Having a champion in your life is so crucial to our resilience and success as human beings. You are definitely blessed to have your “amazing grandma”, Kim. God bless her and you this holiday.

Merry Christmas Eve,

The Cheer Squad