DAY OF GIVING: You can help local charities make a difference
By ANTHONY FLORES
Whether it’s providing food and clothing to someone down on their luck, helping school organizations raise funds, caring for those who can’t care for themselves, comforting a family in distress, or helping someone who has experienced trauma, the vital role that charitable organizations play in the Liberty Hill community cannot be understated.
The Liberty Hill Day of Giving is a 24-hour fundraiser that encourages the community to donate and help these organizations in their missions to improve the lives of others. This year’s event – the third since it began in 2018 – is Friday, and the seven organizations involved hope to build on a young tradition that has raised more than $70,000 in its first two years.
Operation Liberty Hill
At Operation Liberty Hill (OLH), making sure people are clothed, fed, and cared about is the core of the mission.
As a mother of three facing financial hardship, Samantha Webb is grateful to have a place like OLH to help her and her family make it through a tough situation.
“It’s helped us put groceries on the table for almost a year now,” she said. “The summer snack program has been really helpful. My kids love looking forward to the treats in them.”
A common assumption is that people who seek the aid of a food pantry are poor, borderline homeless, or don’t work. But frequently the situation is more complicated than that. Webb’s husband is employed, but with money stretched thin; the family needs a little help.
“My husband lost his job, and we unexpectedly ended up pregnant with our third child. That put us in the working poor category when he found a job, but it wasn’t paying the bills like the previous one was,” Webb said. “We didn’t qualify for food stamps, and we needed help.”
The help from OLH comes with no judgment and lots of understanding.
“They’re great. They greet me with such loving, caring eyes. It doesn’t feel like judgment, and they’re always so sweet to the kids,” Webb said of the staff and volunteers at OLH. “Helping Operation Liberty Hill means you’re helping your neighbor who you may not know is struggling.”
L4 Cares is an organization with a mission to help “the least, the last, the lost, and the lonely.”
One of the most essential services L4 Cares provides is comfort and aid to families of children with a terminal illness.
Megan Smith Beatty’s daughter was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, a brain tumor on the brain stem. The tumor was very aggressive, requiring Beatty’s daughter to receive treatment at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston, a move that while financially difficult, was made without question. L4 Cares stepped in to ease the transition for the family.
“L4 Cares reached out to us and told us that they got us a fully-furnished apartment near MD Anderson for the entire time we will be there,” she said. “It was such a blessing, and a huge worry lifted off our shoulders when we had so much more to worry about. Our stay in Houston was comfortable, and we made a lot of good memories with the bad.”
A friend contacted L4 Cares for Deanna Reinders, and they swooped in to comfort her daughter and shine a light on her family in their darkest moment.
“She contacted them to surprise my daughter with a visit from her favorite princess, Ariel from The Little Mermaid. My daughter had just been in the hospital for 10 days and was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor called DIPG; it is terminal,” said Reinders. “Ariel came to our home, sang with my daughter, read her a story, and even brought her some gifts. It was wonderful, my daughter was going through a rough time, and L4 Cares brought her joy.”
For both mothers, L4 Cares was a blessing in their most difficult moments.
“All of these things have helped bring joy during a dark time in our lives,” said Reinders. “You can tell they truly do care about the child and their family.”
Understanding the work that Hope House does means understanding the type of residents they serve. The residents of Hope House have severe disabilities, can’t speak, and require care 24 hours a day seven days a week.
To work for Hope House is a tasking experience. For Jared Sudekum, a Hope House caregives, the job is all about making his residents feel normal and treating them like human beings.
“I’ve been there for six or seven years, and when they brought me in, my mission was to get our residents out into the community and give them a more structured day,” he said. “We wanted to get them involved in more activities that would bring them out of the home.”
To Sudekum the residents are like family. Just like any family, he believes they deserve the best and deserve a sense of normalcy.
“I love my residents. They’re like your brother or sister, your father or mother, son or daughter,” he said. “They’re so unique, and they figure you out as you figure them out. You work together, play together, and eat together. It’s normal life but created so that if you have a challenge, we find a workaround.”
Panther Pit Crew
The Panther Pit Crew is known for the money it raises for various school organizations. The Pit Crew goes the extra mile to make sure that as many students get a seat at the table as possible.
A humble group, the Pit Crew, prefers to remain in the shadows and help without any fanfare. The team regularly goes beyond the call.
Mike Riley, the father of Cade Riley, an LHHS student who passed away after an ATV accident, knows firsthand how much the Pit Crew cares about the community. In memory of Cade, his father started a fishing tournament to raise money for scholarships, and the Pit Crew didn’t hesitate to show its support.
“When they came out it wasn’t just one pit and five guys, they brought the whole trailer,” said Riley. “They brought tents, fans, tables, and cornhole. It was all for nothing. They just came to support us because we were a member of the community. They came out and asked, ‘how can we help?’”
Liberty Hill Public Library
The work that a public library does is vital to a community. Even the smallest library serves as a hub of information that helps educate and connect citizens.
In Liberty Hill, the public library goes above and beyond to positively impact as many people as possible. The impact it makes is vital to the youth of the community. Placing them on the path of reading encourages learning.
“I found that my kids have an eagerness to read and explore now,” said Holly Hafley of Liberty Hill. “With their reading program, it’s like every hour they want to read. My daughter will sit down for an hour and read. Even with the science to go kits they do. They learn and are just excited about it.”
Whether it’s mermaid parties or Christmas celebrations, the events the library holds have become a tradition for Hafley and her family.
“They have shark and mermaid parties and different things that the kids are so into,” she said. “They have PJ Christmas story time where kids get to make reindeer food. For us, that’s become a family tradition. We’ve done it the last three years; we all get out PJs and listen to story time. It created a tradition for us, and I imagine for others.”
The Day of Giving is June 26. To donate to these organizations, Spirit Reins and the LHISD Education Foundation, visit the Day of Giving page and click on one of the donate buttons.