Christmas is over, but the generosity we saw over the holiday season will have an impact for a long time.
A group in Cedarburg is using Facebook to spread love to people in need.
Heaps of Amazon packages are a familiar sight around Christmas, but at least one of those heaps was headed somewhere very special.
“I think a lot of people felt that, in 2020, they just kind of had personal rough years, and maybe it made them realize that other people had rougher years than they did,” says Staci Oakes.
Staci is the founder of a Facebook group called Cedarburg Women for Christmas Cheer. She started it in 2020 and the group now has more than 400 members.
“At the end of the thing, I probably only knew about a quarter of the people that were participating in it,” Staci says. “So, it was a bunch of strangers. To watch other people get excited and add other people to the group and to keep it snowballing was really cool.”
Staci says the group wanted to focus on helping other women, like at the Milwaukee Women's Center shelter. Manager Shamika May says her staff need a lot of support.
“Because we work solely off of grants,” Shamika says.
Last year, Staci and the Women for Christmas Cheer gave out $100 Kohl’s gift cards to all the women in the shelter. This year, they repeated the generosity -- donating enough money for 100 gift certificates, toys for the kids, and handwritten Christmas cards from the classroom of one of the women in the group.
“Sometimes a lot of us get very emotional because we get excited to see all the stuff that we have to give to the families, especially the children,” Shamika says. “We have enough donations to get the children sometimes 2 to 3, even 4 or 5 different items, which makes us feel great.”
“Our goal is just to make them feel special and give them something that gives them some worth and really something that was all theirs to look forward to,” Staci adds.
But Shamika says donations like these are about way more than just gifts.
“It makes people, women and children and families here, feel like, ‘oh, people are thinking about us during the holidays. When they could be doing something else, they took the time to make sure that we had something to be thankful for.’”
And Staci and her Cedarburg Women have caught the generosity bug now. They don’t just donate around Christmas. Over the summer, they helped get some new playground equipment for the Shelter.
It just goes to show there’s never a bad time to help someone in need.