When Blue Ribbon News embarked upon the “Share the Season” donation drive in partnership with Savvy Texas Magazine and Planet Rockwall, we knew we had the potential to make a difference and help some very deserving nonprofit organizations this Christmas.
What we didn’t realize is how many local businesses would jump onboard with wholehearted support – reaching out to employees, volunteers, clients, customers and the community, contributing more than we ever expected.
When trying to decide which non-profits to sponsor, Blue Ribbon News, Savvy Texas Magazine and Planet Rockwall agreed to select three local organizations that typically don’t host large donation drives for themselves during the holiday season.
Share the Season 2011 benefited the Rainbow Room of Rockwall County, which works with Child Protective Services and serves as emergency assistance for abused and neglected children; the Rowlett Needy Children’s Fund, which is run on a shoestring budget and brings much needed food and clothing to children and families in need; and Rockwall PAWS, which stands for Pets Assistance and Wellness Support, bringing help and hope to Rockwall County animals.
Among the businesses hosting donation boxes were:
- Old Navy of Rockwall
- Elly May’s
- KE Cellars
- MidSouth Bank
- Zanata Restaurant
- The Hair Gallery
- Girlfriends in Rowlett
- Ace’s Gourmet Panini’s
- & Absolutely Edible Cakes.
Kim Lovett of Savvy Texas Magazine wrote this about the experience: “We were so pleased with how many places had agreed to carry our boxes, but what happened next made us see what “Sharing the Season” really meant.”
She went on to say that her husband, Kirk, had been in contact with Barbara Thomas of Rowlett Needy Children’s Fund on many occasions – first to understand the mission of the organization and its needs – and then to explore what could be done to make a real difference in the lives of the families that RNCF helps every day.
“The first idea was brought to the table by Becky Peck at The Hair Gallery. She thought it would be a great idea to set up a series of appointments on days that the salon would typically have been closed, for families to come in and get free haircuts,” Lovett said.
“This sounds like something so basic to many of us, but for some of the families involved, it was the first time that the kids actually were going to receive a professional haircut, and it was a really great gift for the holidays,” she said.
“Kirk coordinated appointment times with Barbara of RNCF, and then set out to make the project even more special. He contacted Brendal’s Bakery in Rowlett, who donated cupcakes to have as a treat during the appointment dates. He spoke with Which Wich in Rockwall, whose owners, Robert and Milda Arlauskas, donated sandwiches, drinks, cookies and chips to be served to the families as well.”
“In essence, for each appointment date, the families coming in not only received a free haircut for the holidays, but they were also walking into a holiday celebration to enjoy. It was a lovely unexpected surprise that they were very grateful for.”
Lovett added that there was one person in particular who was so thrilled to get a haircut, that even though she didn’t have a ride to The Hair Gallery, she walked to be able to make her appointment time.
“On the day of her appointment, Kirk had actually approached Tom Thumb management in Rowlett to see if there was anything they would like to contribute to the donation drive. They gave him a $25 gift card and he was pondering in what way it could best be used. He decided that this one girl who was so excited merely to be getting a haircut, who had so little, and was going to do whatever it took to make her appointment time, would probably very much appreciate being able to use the card to buy some grocery items. She was indeed overjoyed,” Lovett said.
And the giving didn’t stop there. Old Navy of Rockwall not only carried a donation box for the drive, manager Joey Flores also brought in a single father with two children in order to donate clothing items as Christmas gifts for them. One of the children was a six-year-old boy who wanted a pair of cowboy boots for Christmas. Lisa Gillham of Cowgirl Cuties donated that pair of boots for him. And for the 12-year-old daughter, Madi Lovett designed and made a custom headband, which just happened to be the little girl’s favorite color.
“Seeing them receive such an outpouring of support was a true gift not only for the family, but for all who were involved that day,” Lovett said.
Jeremy Shank of Brookshires in Rockwall donated nine cases of food items to RNCF. Rockwall Salons donated diapers and clothing to the Rainbow Room. Half Price Books of Rockwall donated hundreds of books that went to RCNF.
Dot’s Fashions donated ten bags of clothing. Dr. Barney Barnhill donated dozens of toothbrushes, floss and other dental hygiene products.
Shenaniganz carried a box and collected several bags of clothing, toys and books that were split between RNCF and the Rainbow Room. Parker Coddington of Shenaniganz donated 30 gift cards for RNCF families, and 66 gift cards that went to the Rainbow Room.
And Cheryl Fitzgerald of Girlfriends in Rowlett donated several stylish handbags and wallets, sure to bring smiles to many teens on Christmas morning.
The Rainbow Room, the Rowlett Needy Children’s Fund and Rockwall PAWS each received much needed donations this holiday season.
The number of people and business owners who stepped up and volunteered their time and resources to make this Christmas special for so many touched us all.
And while all of us at Blue Ribbon News, Savvy Texas Magazine, and Planet Rockwall are very grateful for the many gifts in our lives, our greatest gift this season was being able to work with so many fabulous people and businesses to make positive impacts in the lives of local families in need.
Story by Dawn Redig, Blue Ribbon News editor, and Kim Lovett, Savvy Texas Magazine.
To submit your news and events, email editor@BlueRibbonNews.com.