Sharing Feeds Our Souls

Giving back to your community doesn’t only benefit those on the receiving end. Read the message of our long-time supporters to learn how sharing with Share Ourselves has transformed their lives.

Quite a few years ago, my husband and I were looking for a new-to-us Christmas experience. Listed in the calendar was a Decorated Christmas Tree auction, a fundraiser for Share Ourselves, an organization we had never heard of, being held in a nearby hotel. We had no intention of bidding on a designer Christmas tree but decided it would be fun to go see them. We went, the trees were beautiful, we bought a commemorative apron and took home some literature about Share Ourselves.

After the new year, we decided to go take a tour of the Share Ourselves facility on Superior, with thoughts of possibly volunteering there. We were both retired at the time, but very soon after our visit, I was offered the chance to go back to work part time doing something I loved. We put our volunteer plans on the back burner. Still, the memory of the great work being done by Share Ourselves stuck with us, and in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, we made a run through the grocery store, filling a cart with a frozen turkey, a bag of russet potatoes, and lots of non-perishable additions to a festive holiday dinner. That was the first of many years of Thanksgiving dinner donations.

It was a couple of years later that there was a heartbreaking change in our relationship with a portion of my husband’s family, and as the Christmas holidays approached, we realized that we had a few less people to buy gifts for. I searched out information on the Share Ourselves Adopt a Family program. Soon we were assigned a young couple and their toddler triplets. What fun this wannabe Grandmother had shopping that year! 

Since then, Adopt A Family has been every bit as big a part of our Christmas preparations as sending cards and decorating the house. And, as the years have gone by, it has become the most meaningful part of our holiday celebration. I love drop-off day, seeing the long line of cars waiting to unload boxes, and all the smiling volunteers wishing everyone a Merry Christmas as they scurry from car to car. On Christmas morning I find myself picturing the faces of smiling children opening their presents, and a family sitting down to a special Christmas meal.  Adopt A Family remains a treasured gift to us. 

Our involvement with Share Ourselves continued to be a November/December thing for several years. Then, along came 2020, and the world turned upside down. By the time California went into lockdown, I realized that as frightened as we were of what was to come, my husband and I were so lucky. We were safe and comfortable in our home. We had enough financial resources to be able to afford to use Insta-Cart for our groceries and a few streaming services to keep us entertained in our confinement. But the news was filled with the toll the lockdown was taking on people without resources and we decided to do something. Aware of all that Share Ourselves does for the underserved in our immediate area, it made perfect sense to us to start donating to the Share Ourselves general fund. 

Early in 2021, having no idea how our neighbors in our small condominium community would respond, we put out a notice for a community food drive. That first year, it took three SUVs to deliver what was collected to Share Ourselves! That summer I reached out to the community again, this time asking for donations of school supplies for the Back-To-School program, and again the community stepped up.  

In January of 2022, we held our first cold weather clothing drive. As I write this, I am waiting for a member of the Share Ourselves staff to come pick up the many boxes and bags stacked in our garage that are filled with warm clothing, blankets, new socks, rain ponchos and more from our third annual clothing drive this year.   Having reached out to friends outside our community, and place of business, this turned out to be our most successful clothing drive yet. Soon we’ll be looking at potential dates for our fourth annual food drive, to be held this spring, and thinking of ways to make it even more successful.

What we have learned from running three annual drives a year in our small neighborhood is that many people are happy to donate once a need is brought to their attention. And, we have been thanked by more than one neighbor for making it easy for them to do something they always mean to do and just never get around to. Another neighbor, a longtime supporter of Share Ourselves, followed the example and asked all her family members to bring cold weather clothing donations to their family Christmas Eve celebration. She was so proud of her family for their generosity, and so pleased to text me a picture of the back of her car filled with items she was delivering to Share Ourselves right after Christmas. 

My husband and I have reached a time in our lives when health issues are slowing us down and making it harder to do as much as we’d like. But sending off a monthly donation and spending a bit of time organizing our community drives feeds our needs to help others not nearly as blessed as we are. Our Share Ourselves journey, that started with a calendar listing for a decorated Christmas tree auction all those years ago, has been a long one. It’s a life-affirming journey for which we are both now very grateful.

– An Anonymous Supporter