There are many things about Wyoming that make it beautiful — from its rivers to its mountains to its wide-open prairies. But one of Wyoming’s most beautiful features is its people. It’s been said many times that our state is one small town with really long roads. It’s a community of friends and neighbors helping one another, and there’s no shortage of generosity. With Christmas tomorrow, we wanted to highlight a few examples of groups and individuals who’ve shown exceptional generosity this year and worked hard to make a difference, and in most cases, with an abundance of help from the community.

One of the many organizations that have had a profound impact is the Wyoming Food for Thought Project, a nonprofit that aims to find a local solution to hunger. In 2017, the organization served 243,720 meals to food-insecure children with its weekend food bag program. In addition to the food bag program, Food for Thought grows community gardens, hosts winter and summer farmer’s markets, and recently starting work on a mobile market to bring nutritious food to families who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it.

This month, the 20th annual Stuff the Van toy drive received 2,400 toys for clients of the Casper Housing Authority, the Child Development Center, the Food for Thought Project and the Boys & Girls Club. In addition, a public signup for families not represented by those agencies netted 200 more requests, all of which were filled. Thanks to the many people who donated, Christmas morning will be better for hundreds of children and their parents across the community.

The Fleece Blanket Project is an effort to craft fleece blankets for the homeless. The group hosted a one-day blanket blitz earlier this month, and with the help of 161 volunteers made 165 fleece blankets to give to those in need of warmth, more than they’ve made in their three years of volunteer effort. Those blankets will keep a lot of less fortunate people warm this winter.

A Casper woman named Miamie Sleep has started a nonprofit to provide housing for homeless teens. She’s applied for nonprofit status, found a property and will begin accepting donated household goods after the first of the year. She saw a need, and with that giving Wyoming spirit, worked to fill it.

It’s the kindness of people like this paired with the generosity of a whole community that makes Wyoming a special place to live. Fewer children were hungry this year. Homeless will be warmer. Christmas morning will be brighter. And Wyoming will continue to earn its reputation as place where neighbors help neighbors.

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