Give in Review: 2016

The second year of Ding Dong Divas was just as jam-packed full of goodness as our inaugural year. A few gives were established as needed repeats – ones that will become annual gives moving forward because the people we’ve met through these organizations left an indelible mark upon us and we want to  spend time with them every year. Here’s a glimpse of the good we did in 2016:

DECEMBER 2016 Give: Holiday Bingo at Finlay House. As a 188 unit, low-income, senior living complex in the heart of Columbia, Finlay House serves as large group of seniors in need of our kindness and compassion. We played bingo for the afternoon with generous prizes while enjoying Christmas cookies and refreshments .

OCTOBER 2016 Give: Bingo Night at Transitions. With 260 residential beds and 150 daily visitors, Transitions is the largest homeless shelter serving the Midlands. It’s hard to imagine almost 500 homeless people in one location. And it’s even more difficult to hear stories of why some of them are in their situation. Or how they feel about being homeless.

We were able to bring smiles to them last night. We had fun, shared laughs and, as one resident shared with me, helped them “forget about the stresses and feel normal for a few hours.”

We had great prizes such as toothpaste/toothbrushes, hats/mittens, sweaters, books, flashlights, duffle bags, handwarmers, waterbottles, candy, food and more. Every participant – whether they won or not – received a hygiene bag with bodywash, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, mints, and a handwritten prayer card. We also donated a trunk full of clothing to help fill their emergency closet. It was a great night!

SEPTEMBER 2016 Give: Stock the Pantry. Senior Resources coordinates programs and resources to help senior citizens in the Midland’s remain independent. They’re also the only provider of Meals on Wheels in Richland County.  We’ve partnered with them to collect 400 soups, crackers, juice boxes and granola bars. We also worked with Corpus Christi Catholic Church and St. Peter’s Catholic Church to include handwritten notes and drawings in each packet. These sweet messages added to the wonderful gift we were able to give.

We were honored to have WLTX cover this give, expanding our reach for sharing the message about senior food insecurity and the ability for our community to come together to help bridge the gap. (http://www.wltx.com/mb/news/local/kids-make-cards-for-seniors-in-the-midlands/324032791)

AUGUST 2016 Give: Helping Hands for Hannah House.  Hannah House is a 40-bed, transitional housing facility in Columbia that provides shelter for 14 single women and 8 families.  Since 1999, their mission has been to help women and their families to live a purpose-driven, self-sufficient life. We collected much needed household items from towels to bathroom towels, sheet sets to shower curtains for the residents. We also painted their basement which houses a laundry facility and clothing boutique that serves the community as well as the Hannah House residents. Such a small task made a huge difference to this lovely transitional home and put a smile on everyone’s face

JULY 2016 Give: Back-to-School Bash for The Family Shelter.  Homeless children often struggle to be successful in school. In addition to the stress of not having a home, they often lack basic school supplies. We threw a Back-to-School Bash for the residents at The Family Shelter. We collected schools supplies to stock a homework station and gently-used/new books to create a reading nook in the new activity center. Our goal was blown to another level! After sorting, counting and boxing it all up, we have enough to donate bags of supplies as well as boxes of books to THREE more children’s shelters (two in Lexington and one in Columbia). In addition, two ESL programs will each receive a tub of teacher manuals!! Our volunteers enjoyed playing games with the kids – and   the parents – as well as facepainting, fellowship and fun. The activity center was full of smiles and laughter.

MAY 2016 Give: Plant Seeds of Love. Samaritan’s Well is a transitional home in Lexington for   single mothers and their children with a goal to help them regain their independence as a family. We partnered with them to build two raised vegetable gardens and cheer up the landscaping around the home. We collected funds to purchase all the necessary materials. It was a great activity for the kids who participated, too. We transformed the front entry with flowers and shrubs, built two raised vegetable gardens and created some beautiful moments of cheer and goodwill! I’m beyond grateful for all the hard work!!! The results were remarkable!!

APRIL 2016 Give: Cleaning Supplies for Home Care Seniors. Senior Resources helps seniors remain in their homes as long as possible, in an effort to delay or prevent institutionalization. We partnered with them to provide SPRING CLEAN BUCKETS for 35 Home Care service recipients. Home Care seniors are truly homebound. They tend to be isolated and not able to leave their homes. Meals on Wheels provides them food on a regular basis, but simple household items are not provided as part of the meal delivery service and the cost to purchase them is often beyond their means. My favorite moment was spending time with a sweet gentleman who had just turned 98 and just lost his wife of 72 years on March 1. Heard how they met and fell in love. Beautiful.

MARCH 2016 Give: Game Night at The Family Shelter. We hosted a GAME NIGHT for the children and families residing at The Family Shelter. We collected snacks for the evening as well as games, puzzles and books to stock the Activity Center. Did we ALL have fun! The kids enjoyed the games – and so did the parents. Kids as well as moms participated in facepainting, cornhole, MEGA jenga,puzzles, fellowship and fun.

FEBRUARY 2015 Give: Soup for our Seniors. We gathered, sorted, bagged and delivered bags of goodies including soup, crackers and granola bars to 96 residents of two low-income senior facilities in Lexington, SC.

Give in Review: 2015

Our first year as Ding Dong Divas was packed with fun as we spread cheer and goodwill to those in need of kindness around the Midlands. Check out our awesome year!

Fall 2015 Give: Operation Exodus. Every year, Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC, cuts loose their bootcamp troops to go home for a two-week Christmas break. Since these soldiers often spend every dime to purchase their tickets to make it home for the holidays, we wanted to provide them goodie bags for their trip. During September, October and November, we collected: 6807 Granola Bars,  6339 Slim Jims, 6182 Packs of crackers, 3014 Packs of cookies, 338 Variety chips, snack packs, cheezits, 747 Chex mix, 82 Packs of sunflower seeds, 735 Packs of nuts, 24 raisins, 1980 Packs of gum, 2818 mini packs of M&Ms, candies, 546 regular packs of M&Ms, skittles, 12 starburst, 1 box of Raisinettes, 22 packs of fruit snacks, 20 fruit roll ups, 72 snack cakes, 488 12oz Gatorade, 205 single water flavors, 463 popcorn factory, 611 Lip balms, 518 Packs of Kleenex, 900 stamps of strength, 75 cases of water, 7692 notes of encouragement. Amazing doesn’t even describe the tremendous goal we achieved. Considering that many of us were collecting at a time when our state was devastated by the flood disaster. We rallied. We overcame. Friends and family from near and far believed in our cause and gave. Then, from 8:00pm on December 17 until 8:00am December 18, a crew of 30 Ding Dong Divas divided into three shifts to distribute the goodie bags as the soldiers were shipped off the base. What an amazing evening. The look of gratitude and a simple smile from a soldier is worth more than gold. How humbling to receive thanks from a soldier for a simple bag of treats, when their gift to us is so much more.

August 2015 Give: Socks + Underwear for Foster Care. We packaged 849 pairs of underwear and 762 pair of socks (infant, toddler and youth sizes) into bundles that  included a handwritten note of love and compassion. These packages were delivered to a local foster parent organization and several youth shelters in Columbia and Lexington, SC.

July 2015 Give: Finlay Home Farmers Market. Our biggest give yet. 180 low-income seniors received what they asked for – fresh fruits and vegetables. And we brought it by the truckload! We set up a Farmer’s Market for the residents at Finlay House to pick out fresh fruits and vegetables.

June 2015 Give: Blessing Bags for the Homeless. We packaged 262 bags with travel-size shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, mouthwash, body soap, sunscreen, body lotion and pack of Kleenex along with toothbrush, comb,pack of gum and a handwritten note of encouragement to the recipient. The Family Shelter, Transitions, Seed of Hope, and Oliver’s Gospel Mission all benefited from this tremendous give. We also collected the following full-size items for the abused women and children’s shelters: 10 shampoo, 24 deodorant, 11 shower caps, 12 mouthwash, 37 makeup removers, 36 toothpastes that were donated to Samaritan’s Well Women’s Shelter.

MAY 2015 Give: Soup for our Seniors. We gathered, sorted, bagged and delivered bags of goodies including soup, crackers and granola bars to 55 residents of a low-income senior facility in Irmo, SC.

FEBRUARY 2015 Give: Soup for our Seniors. We gathered, sorted, bagged and delivered bags of goodies including soup, crackers and granola bars to 38 residents of a low-income senior facility in Lexington, SC.