'There's just so many families in need'
Reed City woman organizes holiday gift-giving program
REED CITY — In an effort to help children in need, Reed City resident Heidie Decker Thomas began performing "Christmas Miracles."
"I started it four years ago, just wanting to help some local families during Christmas time who needed some assistance," she said.
With a desire to help those who struggle during the holiday season, Thomas jumped on her Facebook account and began contacting friends, asking who would be willing to help her sponsor a few families in the area.
After a great response, Thomas created a private Facebook group, "Reed City Christmas Miracles," and contacted the Reed City G.T. Norman Elementary School, asking for families who may need a little help during the holidays when it came to purchasing toys for their children.
"I just like doing things for other people," Thomas said. "I always thought that, if I was in need or needed help, I would hope somebody would help me. There's been times where people have helped me, so it's just nice to be able to give back when you can."
If the family agrees to be a part of the cause, Thomas asks for the their children's ages, names and genders, as well as seven to 10 items each child would like for Christmas, within the $20 to $30 range.
After gathering the information, Thomas creates a list of her own, with eight to 10 gifts per child, and puts the family on her private Facebook group. People then have the opportunity to volunteer for which items they'd like to purchase for the families and get the presents to Thomas.
"Once we collect all the gifts, we throw a big wrapping party, and we have people come wrap all the gifts and get them ready for the parents," Thomas said.
According to Thomas, this year, more than 200 presents will be delivered to eight families in need, surpassing the four families which the cause usually helps during the year.
"This year we've had a lot of donations," Thomas said. "We're just trying to bless the kids and make it a Christmas for them that's a little better than what they were going to get."
With almost all the toys purchased, Thomas will be throwing her annual wrapping party Friday. Thomas said the presents could be delivered as early as Friday evening or Sunday evening, but will arrive in time for Christmas.
"'Christmas Miracles' brings the community together, and it shows there's still people out there who want to help for no reason," Thomas said. "People don't know who their gifts are going to, they're just donating and helping people who truly need help."
This year, seven Reed City families will be receiving gifts, as well as one family from the Big Rapids area.
"If you have extra, it's nice to pay it forward when you can," Thomas said.
While Thomas is wrapping up this year's "Christmas Miracles" cause Friday, those interested in volunteering for next year's festivities may contact Thomas through Facebook at "Heidie Decker Thomas."
"We're always looking for more help for next year," Thomas said. "It takes a community to help raise a family, and it's just nice there's people in our community, and people outside of the community, who've donated.
"There's just so many families in need, and I encourage other people to try and do the same thing."