No. 17 – Team Hope Christmas Boxes

Every time we’ve been able to volunteer with local organizations, the reward has been in the people we’ve met during the work. This couldn’t have been more true than it was for our latest service project where we met Sally Daly, the matriarch of community service for the Skibbereen area. I was introduced to Sally earlier this week, and only wish we could have met her at the beginning of our time here. She’s one of those people you feel you’ve known for ages from the moment you meet her. She’s optimistic, inspiring, and seems to bring out the good in people simply by being in their presence. Having a conversation with Sally is sure to put  you in a good mood.

As we chatted over coffee, she told me a story I know I will never forget. Sally has served as a foster parent for decades, taking in children from two weeks to seventeen years of age for time periods ranging from just a few days to, in some cases, years. About five years ago, she received a newborn needing immediate, short-term care. Archie was a sweet-tempered infant, and something about him touched Sally’s heart in a very special way. She eventually returned him to a social worker, never learning what happened to the baby. She thought about him a lot over the years, and even kept a little figurine of a boy in her jewelry box, as a token of the time she’d had with Archie. Last week, Sally’s grown daughter, who lives a few towns over from Skibbereen, attended a parent night for her five-year-old son’s classroom. She wound up talking with a man who’s own son was also in the class. After a few minutes of conversation, they figured out that this man and his wife had adopted the same little Archie Sally had cared for. The baby boy she’d thought about so much over the years is now in her own grandson’s class. I find that amazing, although not surprising. People like Sally seem to make heartwarming coincidences like this happen in the world.

Sally is an extraordinary person and we were so glad when we could help out with one of her community projects during our last week in Ireland. Team Hope is an Irish organization serving needy children and their families around the world. Each year they send thousands of Christmas boxes filled with toys, treats and needed toiletry items to children in Africa and Eastern Europe. The girls each put together a box for the program and we delivered them to Sally on Friday.
Girls packing boxes for Team Hope
Liv and Em packing Team Hope boxes
With Sally Daly

We’ve seen some beautiful places here in Ireland, and this week we met a truly beautiful soul. We wish the best for Sally and her many community projects, and we hope  we can help her again some day.

In Ireland
– While Sally is the contact for Skibbereen, dozens of volunteers are working to orchestrate the effort throughout Ireland. If you’d like to contribute a Christmas box to Team Hope, simply visit the Team Hope contact page to find the coordinator for your town. The deadline for contributions is coming up on November 10. It’s a great way to make a small difference this holiday season

In the U.S. – Those of you in the United States can participate in a similar program called Operation Christmas Child. The national collection week for this program is November 17-24. If a collection point isn’t set up for your town, you can mail a Christmas box to the organization’s headquarters.

About the Author

Mom, wife, friend and change agent traveling the world with my family to learn our place in it. After spending a career in organizational change management and community initiative implementation, I put my career on hold for our family's trip around the world. In April of 2014 we sold almost everything we own, put the rest in a storage container, and departed on this journey. While my husband continued his software development work to financially support our trip, I planned and documented our adventure, homeschooled our three daughters, and found volunteer work opportunities for us to do in the communities we visit. Now that we've returned to the U.S., I'm completing book about our family's adventure and our lessons learned.

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