Our venture begins with a story. It's a story shared over lunch among seven friends chatting about kids and work, enjoying good food and a lot of laughs. It's the inspiring story of the 9 Nanas, as they call themselves, and their humble beginnings as anonymous givers. Over 30 years ago, these big-hearted ladies began gathering at 4 a.m. to bake hundreds of MeMaw Ruth's southern pound cakes; and these cakes, along with the money these ladies saved clipping coupons and doing their own laundry, began brightening the day of needy recipients. The Nanas' acts of happiness ranged from an electric bill paid, to school clothes for children, to help at the grocery store--but always came with one of their signature cakes included in the care package. It was a delightful story of goodness and giving.
We all returned to our homes after lunch that day, but our friend could not put this story away. It was as if a light had turned on in her head and in her heart. If these ladies could make a difference with what they had--a great recipe--surely, we could pool our resources and make a difference as well. But the specifics of who and how we might help were not forthcoming. Months went by, and this idea tumbled around in her head, urging her towards something good . . . she just wasn't sure what.
In mid 2014, our community seemed to be hit with several tragic deaths involving families--a young mother of five who lost her battle with cancer, a girl who died in a tragic accident while tunneling in the sand at the beach, and a father who was killed in a freak on-the-job accident. We all felt the sadness and heaviness of these stories, because when a sudden and unexpected tragedy strikes a family, it really strikes a whole community. The loss is felt among friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers. But nowhere is the heartache felt more than inside the immediate family. The sad truth is that the shock, uncertainty, and overwhelming sense of loss can leave a person or family in a very dark place. There is a happier truth, however, and that is even the smallest kindness has the potential to bring light. As Shakespeare put it, "How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world." And so it seemed we found our "who."
The "how" followed naturally. A family in tragedy is not only facing the shock and heartache of loss, but often the stress of the unplanned expense of funeral and burial services. Our goal is to help there whenever possible. Furthermore, in the turmoil of the days and weeks following the death of their loved one, that family still needs to function; but in reality, even a trip to the grocery store may feel like an overwhelming task. We deliver care packages that include essential food and hygiene items, in the hopes that one less thing "to do" may lighten their load even the smallest degree. Additionally, we hope to minimize the financial repercussions for children who have lost a parent by providing funds to continue activities such as sports and music throughout the school year, in cases where this would otherwise not be possible. In this way, we would hope to help maintain as much normalcy in a child's routine as possible, as well as provide an outlet for them to continue doing something they love.
Our efforts feel small--even to us--when compared to the enormity of a tragic and unexpected death of a loved one. Nothing can erase that loss. But we do hope to shed light on someone's darkness, to relieve a little of their stress, and simply put, to let them know someone cares.