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The Gift of Hope for the Holidays

By Bonnie Duncan, CEO, United Way of Hunterdon County

I was wrapping up a project and getting ready to go home when the phone rang and I saw that it was Alice B. I groaned, annoyed at myself, because she’d left a message earlier in the day and I hadn’t called her back. Alice has been part of our United Way volunteer family for over two decades and a sustained leadership giver.  She served on our board and could always be counted on to make phone calls, pick up items or checks for events and serve on committees to help raise funds for United Way.  Not too long ago she moved to assisted living and we made sure to find ways for her to stay engaged.  She continued to help us with mailings and projects she could work on at the facility. When COVID hit her facility was shuttered to the outside world.  It can be so isolating when our seniors can’t get out, can’t see anyone – especially when you are a social butterfly who loves her community the way Alice does. 

I picked up the phone and she was SO excited.  Recently, Alice pulled together our mailing for our upcoming Holiday Hands program.  As always she was one of the first to add her donation to support this work.  She then asked the Executive Director, Angie Guydish, at Independence Manor (her home) if she could promote Holiday Hands to the staff and residents.  Alice was given the green light and began spreading the news.  Not 20 minutes later Angie shows up at Alice’s door with a $400 contribution for the program. (On a sidenote, after a 20-year career at Independence Manor, Angie just announced her retirement and I can’t think of a more passionate and compassionate person, who has always had the best interests of the residents and their families at heart.). 

Alice is like the energizer bunny of good cheer, getting folks excited about the holidays and opportunities to give back to our community – helping children & families, seniors and folks with disabilities.  While many of the residents won’t be able to get out to shop they were able to support Holiday Hands financially so we could support more families in need.  As tired as I felt after a long day I was overwhelmed by Alice’s resilience and determination to re-imagine what she and others could do to help, and for her efforts I am forever grateful and humbled. Alice reminds me why it is so important that we continue to find ways to connect with one another during this time, and that Holiday Hands is about more than gifts, it is about hope.