Happy New Year everyone! I hope that you all had a Merry Christmas and I am so excited to share that all of the funds raised from the Christmas Cookie Challenge 2.5 have been distributed to well-deserving families right in our own community. We ended up raising over $13,000 and were able to help 12 local families and 2 local charities! That is so much more than I had imagined this race would raise at the beginning and cannot begin to thank you all for your support in giving these people a reason to smile during Christmas time.
I got to meet many of them and from the tears in their eyes, I could tell how thankful they were! I would like to share with you just a few of the stories that were selected, so that you can get a glimpse of the impact that these funds helped make in their lives.
Family #1: Both parents are hardworking but have come up on hard times as a result of health issues. The father was out of work (Home Depot) last year with a triple by-pass and the mother (school bus driver) is currently out of work due an injury sustained on the job. They have two young daughters ages 10 & 11. At the time of the nomination, the family was $500 behind on their rent and are being assessed a $200 late fee. Additionally, they have no money for the oil to heat the home. They are ineligible for funds through social services as they are one of the families that “falls through the cracks in the system”.
Update: Just a week ago, I received an uplifting update on the family from the nominator:
“I had the opportunity to visit with the family on Wednesday. Mom was overwhelmed by what you did for them. Because of this help, the family was able to fill the oil tank and have heat last Friday when the temperatures dropped so low as well as know the rent is up-to-date.”
Family #2: This family was really struggling to pay December bills and buy food for their family. To purchase any Christmas toys or afford a Christmas dinner was out of the question! She shared with the nominator that one of her family members (adult) chastised her for not having her daughter wear a beautiful new Christmas dress last Sunday when the children sang in church! She was embarrassed, hurting for her family, and has been beaten down by others to the extent that she feels like a failure.
When I first met this mother, she had just come from her second job, where she had to be paid for the week after Christmas in advance, to get through that week. She was in tears when she met me and shared with me that she had just prayed for help right before I called her to tell her that she has been nominated and selected. Truly a very deserving family!
Family #3: The parent is a single mother who has been working hard to support her 10 year old daughter who has Cerebral Palsy. Her daughter is about to have another major surgery and will be in need of a 24-7 caretaker. The mother is not going to be able to work during this time and is concerned about how to pay her bills and rent. She worries that she will have her services shut off if she cannot pay them.
When I met this family, her surgery was coming up and when I came in, the family was all waiting around the couch. She gave me one big hug and one thing that really stuck with me was that she had a Christmas tree in her room. I love Christmas, so of course I told her how much I loved her tree. Her response warmed my heart. She told me that now she was now able to put some gifts underneath of that tree!
Family #4: The father, who is in his mid-30s was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer approximately a year ago. The tumor took over one side of his face. Chemo, radiation, and surgery were done, but sadly soon after the first tumor was removed a bigger one grew back behind his eye socket. This one is inoperable, leaving him in a great deal of pain and exhausting all options for a recovery. The father, along with his wife, have two children, one in middle school and one in elementary. They both have had to quit their jobs. Without their jobs, they have had to move in with their parents in Currituck.
Update: Just before Christmas, I got a little thank you card in the mail from this family. In it, the family expressed how greatly appreciative they are for this donation and how they will forever be thankful!! It truly made my day!
Local Charity #1: This charity program is called Merry Spinmas and is put on by the Southside Tri and Cycle. Their goal is simple, to make the holidays better for needy children with a gift of a bike and helmet. As cyclists, (or anyone who has ever rode a bike) they know and love these feelings, and we want to pass these feelings on to the cyclists of tomorrow. They have teamed up with Chesapeake’s Foster Care Program to distribute the bikes. The program is responsible for the care of children with unstable or no homes. Care is provided through foster families. These families are compensated just enough to provide basic necessities for the children. This doesn’t leave extra funds for items like Christmas presents.
Update: Funds from the race were able to help build 2 of the bikes and they have been delivered to the kids! Below are some pictures of the bikes and from the day they were delivered to the foster children.
These are just some of the families and charities that benefited and were helped through your amazing contributions and support for the Christmas Cookie Challenge 2.5. This outcome went way beyond my expectations and I want you all to know what a huge difference you made in these families in this community!
Just think what we can do next year! If we raised $13,000 and helped 12 families and 2 local charities this year, I cannot wait to see what next year brings! I hope to see all of you again next year and am working on getting registration up for the second annual Christmas Cookie Challenge 2.5 as soon as possible. Thank you so much again for your support and for giving these families a reason to be joyful this Christmas season!