The Calkins and Casarez families have discovered healing and an impactful way to bring purpose out of the pain of bereavement. Terri Swain lost both her mother, Jeanne Swain, aged 62, and her sister, Lauri Campbell, aged 43, to cancer within a few short years. Terri’s best friend, Kathy Calkins, also experienced the heartbreaking loss of her mother at what seemed too soon in life.
Terri reveals, “In my family, my mom and sister both passed away from cancer at young ages and within a few years of each other. My sister Lauri who passed away believed that when the numbers 111 were present, it meant that an angel was watching over you or with you. In our family, we see the numbers at all kinds of different places and ways that lets us know they are still here with us. I wanted to do something to honor and remember their angel spirits – both very giving people.”
Both Kathy and Terri have lovingly close relationship with their granddaughters, so they sought a way to honor their loved ones’ memories, while at the same time teaching their precious granddaughters an invaluable lesson on giving. Their goal was to collect 111 items of need requested within the community, and from this The 111 Holiday Giving Project began four years ago.
Terri explains they kindly solicit all of their friends for assistance in collecting the items then their granddaughters, Lili and Liz, write encouraging, sometimes silly messages to send along with each item. In the past, they have collected 111 packages of socks, 111 new, warm blankets, 111 boxes of laundry pods, and, this year, 111 packages of diapers. A GRACE staff personal favorite note this year to go along with one of the diaper packages was, “It’s beginning to look a lot like…..a stinky situation.”
Lili and Liz are now 10 and 12 years old, respectively, and their grandmothers hope that the girls will honor their memory and continue The 111 Holiday Giving Project long after they are gone. The big-hearted group of girls insist this project is their favorite holiday tradition, and it would not be at all possible without the support of their friends and family who help them reach their goal each and every year.
We know at GRACE that we could not accomplish all that we do without remarkable individuals like Terri, Kathy, Lili, and Liz. It is a collective effort in what we do here thanks to the countless people of our community who are committed to putting the welfare of others first. It touches our hearts to hear such sweet stories of how our supporters seek out ways to extend grace and love. Keep up the tremendous work!