“I first got involved with Nashville Rescue Mission through my friend Kelly Putty,” said Carol. “We attended church together, and I had volunteered to help with a Fall Festival at the Mission through Ordinary Heroes, Kelly’s nonprofit organization. I had such a great time that when Mother’s Day rolled around, I was delighted to help with gift bags for the women.”
But after Carol’s husband suddenly passed away in 2009, close to Mother’s Day, she decided she wanted to channel her grief into something positive that would be a blessing to others. “I’d been helping Kelly with this event for two years when I told her, ‘Kelly, I believe God is calling me to lead this project.”’
“I want each woman to know she is special, she is loved, she is treasured,” said Carol. “We collect an assortment of useful, personal, and fun items, such as flip flops, wash cloths, combs, brushes, makeup, magazines … things that might seem small to you and me, but to a woman who has lost everything, these items could mean the world.”
Carol’s Mother’s Day Blessing Bags has grown to the point of having it’s own Facebook page. “There is a core group of volunteers who help with this project, but it was overwhelming to keep up with emailing and texting everyone. I set up the Facebook page to centrally discuss needs and opportunities. It’s been a fun way to keep up with everyone who has helped out and to share information with each other.”
With over 200 members, this Facebook group collects items all year long in preparation of the 250 bags they will give to the mothers and women staying at the Mission on Mother’s Day. Members can download a list of the items she’s collecting to keep with them on shopping trips. Members frequently post about sales and coupons of items that are suitable for the bags.
When asked if anything significant has changed over these past eight years, Carol shared a story from 2009. “I recall the Mission was in the midst of a renovation and all the women were temporarily staying at the men’s campus when I saw a woman carrying her belongings in a black trash bag. It broke my heart. I decided then we were going to collect a reusable bag that each woman could continue to use for other purposes following Mother’s Day.”
Carol’s bags have truly been a blessing, as many of those who show up at the Mission’s doors have nothing but the clothes on their backs. “It could easily be me,” said Carol. “Most of us are one decision away, one paycheck away from being in their shoes. Whether that’s through bad choices, loss of job, an illness, an eviction … it can happen to anyone.”
Carol challenges others to give out of their abundance, as well as their need. “With the quick passing of my husband, I knew I didn’t want to sit around and be depressed,” shared Carol. “I saw this as an opportunity to give out of my need. My need for comfort led to me giving comfort to someone else in need. And in doing so, God filled me in a different way. He tells us that, ‘whatever you do for the least of these,’ you do for Him.”
We are so thankful for Carol and her efforts to bless each and every mother and woman at the Mission with a gift bag. If you would like to help fill a bag, visit www.nashvillerescuemission.org to download a Mother’s Day Wish List.