It’s hard to start thinking about Christmas when the heat index in July is as it is around the country. But even with the blistering heat, stores are already lining their shelves with Christmas decorations and Hallmark is hard at work presenting its “Summer of Christmas” movie marathon all month long.
While sometimes it sounds outrageous to begin to think about Christmas in July, this month starts the planning of the six month long Stuffed with Love Project where I, along with an incredible group of volunteers, team up with the Women Survivors Alliance to create Christmas stockings full of goodies to deliver to cancer patients throughout Middle Tennessee.
For me, it began with a breast cancer diagnosis in 2012. But breast cancer is only a part of my personal journey to find a mission in the madness life can bring. With the inspiration of an influential woman named Taira, I have worked to grow this project over the past few years. During that time, my life has taken many turns beyond the diagnosis and has faced many sharp curves of challenges along the way. As the Stuffed with Love Project has grown, so have I. With each stocking stuffed and every delivery made, it has been a personal comfort to me realizing life, while it can sometimes be full of roadblocks, also can deliver in its most empowering form, my personal best self.
What I have come to see in the beauty of this project is the understanding with each stocking, comes a story of hope. Each year as we grow, we realize the impact to our own lives we receive with each recipient’s story. Those stories fuel our passion and create a greater mission each year. To our passionate volunteer group, each delivery represents an acknowledgement that at a very special time of the year, those we bless have the comfort in knowing they are in someone’s thoughts and prayers throughout the holiday season. What this small mission has come to represent is the fact it’s never really about the actual stocking being delivered, but the hands of extended hope, prayer and love shared with someone who, like myself at one time, was in an unfamiliar and scary place.
This year, the Stuffed with Love Project will personally deliver 1200 stockings to patients around the Middle Tennessee area. Stories of our journey and people I have met along the way I will share with you every month in Unconditionally Her. But, we can’t do it alone. We need your help. We need volunteers who can dedicate time to physically help us deliver these stockings beginning the week after Thanksgiving. We need donations of encouraging material, fun stocking stuffers and Christmas goodies we can share to put a smile on someone’s face. We need funds to make these efforts happen and to allow us to grow. Would you ask yourself over the next few months if you would commit to donating a small amount for this effort? If so, please do so at WomenSurvivorsAlliance.org.
I have said many times over the last few years one stocking can impact a life at the holiday season. One effort can bring a tiny bit of happiness to a scary, dark world. But what I have learned most over the past several years is one UNTOLD story of hope can impact an entire world. In my journey, I have seen it many times. I encourage everyone reading this to not just volunteer for just someone else’s smile, but ultimately for themselves at this upcoming fall and holiday season. I promise you the stories you will hear will change YOUR life and give you an unexpected holiday gift of hope this upcoming season.
Please join us as we share, smile and bring so much hope to those who need it this season.
NOTE: Kickoff to Stuffed with Love is August 20th. Volunteers, drivers, supporters, financial and product donors are asked to contact Jen directly at Jen@WomenSurvivorsAlliance.org to ask how they can support this inspirational gift for cancer patients.