What Makes a Community?

          We see a community as a group of people living in a common place with a similar goal, the success of future generations. A community has many parts to it: the family, the professional, the government, the children, and more. These parts work together as integral pieces of the same machine. But how do they succeed? What makes one community achieve its goal when others don’t?

          Gifts to Give (G2G) is an organization in New Bedford, MA that is helping breathe life into the community using the most powerful tool around, the people. G2G collects, packages, and redistributes clothes, toys, books, baby care/school supplies, and more to thousands of children all over the area. That is the institution in a nutshell, but it is so much more than that at it’s center. The donations they receive come in daily from the community itself, is packaged by locals to be given to the other members of what is quickly becoming a very large family. The books are carefully inspected and put into packages of seven by retired librarians, so they are nothing but the very best of reads. Project Cinderella gives high school girls the opportunity to not only go to prom in a beautiful dress but also allows them to practice their modeling skills. The thrift shop that takes up about a quarter of the football sized warehouse, sells designer clothes for no more than $5, and makes G2G almost completely self sufficient within the community. This enables people to have the opportunity to choose the clothes they want to wear instead of having them be donated. This composition of various programs and opportunities is at the very heart of the city.

          While meeting with Jim Stevens, Gifts to Give’s founder, one could feel the passion emanating from him as he described their work. His love for helping children is evident and manifested in the enormous space that he has dedicated hundreds of thousands of dollars and hours of time to. He believes the success of the community lies within the children and attempts to help them in every way possible. Just from a short conversation with him, it is easy to see that his pride and joy lies in helping the children with early reading and writing education. Shelves upon shelves of books and the addition of the Early Literacy program is testament to his love. But what Gifts to Give boils down to is the people that make it up. It draws on volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. Many of them are groups from the local schools while others are retired professionals, or just individuals who love to give back.

          Our trip wasn’t all business though! The drive down to Gifts to Give was just as much of an adventure as the time spent there. We had some pretty smooth sailing for the majority of the time, but then we ran into some traffic and some of us were less happy about it than others….

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She even makes funny noises when frustrated!!!

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          But have no fear! Our day was made infinitely better when we were tailed by the Leathernecks, a US Marine Core biker gang. Didn’t know this but apparently Leatherneck is synonymous for Marine. Check out their website! http://www.leatherneck.com/

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       Overall it was a fantastic trip and we had a great time, despite the random amount of traffic we ran into. We know you all will have an awesome time at site and can’t wait for FYSOP!!!!

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