It was a beautiful autumn afternoon and Fran Lewis and I had been to visit Anne Farrow, who by that time had needed to move to The Gardens of Royal Oaks. We three chatted about many good things regarding the church and neighborhood.  When time came to leave, Anne’s parting question tugged at me, “Isn’t there something over here we can do to help?”

Moved by her bright and generous spirit despite her serious illness and advancing years, I went straight home and to the web page of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the helping arm of our denomination, and there was the answer to Anne’s question – a project called
“Gift of the Heart” Hygiene Kits.  The kits would be collected and sent to areas where disaster strikes, much like we’ve recently witnessed with Southeastern hurricanes and California wildfires.

We began to talk up this project first in our Congregational Care Team and with the director of The Gardens, Tammy Caldwell.  All seemed to think it was a good idea.  Soon we had volunteers who helped gather the supplies of hand towels and wash cloths, soap, toothbrushes, combs, nail clippers and the gallon zip lock bags to contain them.  With Tammy’s help, the hospital and The Gardens provided the band aids and toothpaste.

It was soon evident that this simple project was a win-win-win.  It was certainly helping those disaster victims who were literally in need of a fresh beginning.  It was giving meaning to the elderly who helped pack and it was providing delightful interaction between our church’s volunteers and the Gardens’ residents.   One of the biggest perks for us from the church is hearing the ladies, and occasional gentleman,  say things like, “It feels so good to be doing something to help somebody else.”, “We really enjoy having something meaningful to do.”, and a personal favorite, “We just love having you young girls come help us.”

Among the other blessings that have resulted from this very small project is that our youth group was inspired to pack kits here at church.  Once a national company donated items.   Discounts have been given us on supplies and, as reserved Presbyterians, we’ve “accidentally” witnessed in Dalton stores,  as employees always want to know what we’re doing with all those combs!  Now, almost three years later, we’ve packed over 1,000 kits of hope-in-a-zip-lock-bag.

Projects like this pop up and new ones will come along over the years.  So whether you’re helping Roger with cooking for Camp Aim, Alice with reading at Blue Ridge School, packing hygiene kits or something YOU are feeling called to begin, the important thing is for us ALL to always be asking as Anne did, “Isn’t there something WE can do to help?”

Jeane Jones