Aloha. On Christmas Day 2013, my husband and teenage daughter helped me fulfill a longtime dream of sharing a holiday meal with the homeless. We prepared 18 meals of ham, my famous cheesy vegetables, holiday cookies and rolls, placed into containers with a thoughtful greeting and a ribbon to make it a gift.
Christmas evening, we drove around a few miles from where we lived and shared our meals with those we saw in their tents or asleep on the sidewalk. I was the driver, my daughter handled the meals and water from the back seat, and my husband would approach and ask if they would accept our gift. (And we noticed in pictures we took he was even wearing his Live Happy shirt!)
A gift from the heart
We were so grateful to know if they had not received anything for Christmas, we were able to place a warm meal in their hands. Having this experience in my heart all year, I just knew I wanted to find a way to continue this project. Struggling with the ‘how,’ I’m ashamed to say I did nothing all year. That is until three days before Thanksgiving 2014, when I got inspired! With my husband and daughter helping me again, we prepared 24 meals of turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie and rolls to share.
For the note, my daughter and I were working to create a message that said “YOU MATTER.” We had just learned about the Live Happy notes, and we both had an inspired thought to use them. We wrote the message “A holiday meal…just for YOU!” and placed the Live Happy note on the container and tied a ribbon around it. I loved that the note could be removed and kept.
There were shouts of “Aloha!” (a Hawaiian greeting of love), and we could see tears in the eyes of several people as they read the notes after accepting the meals. My eyes were also filled with tears from this amazing experience and for having my husband and daughter be a part of it.
Giving back gets bigger
My heart desired for more people to experience this unique way of giving back. On Christmas Day 2014, with the help of 28 people, we were able to share 100 meals. It was so touching to see others get involved and share in this vision. Our system of preparing the 24 meals was just duplicated four times.
We had people donate the hams, cheesy vegetables, Christmas cookies, rolls, bottled water, and all the necessary supplies to make it a success. Wrapped toys were donated for the kids, and even dog food donations were made for the pets who were on the streets with their owners.
Dreaming even bigger
Feeling gratitude for the success that I had just witnessed for this project from my heart, I started dreaming BIG…and my commitment for 2015 is to share on four holidays: Easter, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas! On April 5, for Easter, we were able to share 100 meals with the help of 35 volunteers and the start of a system to build to our larger meal runs. Our Fourth of July run will have 500 meals and will include a special gift basket just for veterans we encounter on the streets.
Our biggest run will be on Christmas Day this year; we will be sharing 1,000 meals… Yes, 1,000! We are planning to include wrapped presents for kids as well as practical presents for adults, such as flashlights, blankets and jackets.
What will your Happy Act be?
I am committed to keeping the Live Happy notes as a staple for this project. Countless times, when the meal was given, we could see recipients reading the notes and tearing up or even burying their heads and sobbing.
Witnessing this, I am grateful that the message was received by the people who were supposed to be reading it in this unique way!