By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Laney Lyons put out the word and the Four Points community responded.
“The Community First! Village Christmas Party was fantastic,” shared Lyons, who coordinated the event that was held the Thursday before Christmas on December 21.
For nearly a decade, Lyons has been coordinating hot meal deliveries to Community First!, a master planned neighborhood that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for men and women coming out of homelessness.
Lyons would post on the Steiner Moms & Tots Facebook page and people would make and drop food at her house in Steiner. The interest grew and people started going down to serve with her each month. Before long they started serving every Thursday.
This year Lyons posted the idea to give each resident at dinner a Christmas stocking. The response was high.
Volunteers had stocking stuffer sorting parties with teens and adults organizing the donations. Residents at Longhorn Village and teens wrote handwritten cards for each resident.
“A friend of mine who is formerly homeless shared that cards even from a stranger mean a lot to folks who may not get any and likely have no close family. She used to hang them inside her tent she lived in,” shared Lyons, who lived in Steiner for about six years before moving to Leander recently.
Two nights before the event, there were lots of volunteers signed up and stocking donations but the organizers were nearly 70% short of the food that was needed. They wanted to serve home cooked, Christmas dinner foods.
“I did a post saying I had a caterer who would make time to cook what’s missing and would give me a good deal but to cover the food cost and her time I’d be coming out of pocket at least $1,000,” Lyons shared.
She asked people to Venmo her if they wanted to chip in. Donations started trickling in. “I went to bed nervous about the cost and woke up to over $1,000 donated to cover the food and caterer time,” Lyons said. “This is how Steiner does it – everyone can help a little be it a $20 donation or cooking one pan of food – and when you put it all together it makes a huge impact for our no-longer-homeless friends.”
Additionally, so many people wanted to come and hand out the stockings, the team realized they needed to have more events at dinner so there were enough things for volunteers to do.
They added bingo with three new TVs as prizes, which were donated by Steiner residents.
There was a group of Steiner teens who sang Christmas carols.
“On the party night we had easily 40+ volunteers there serving dinner, assisting with stocking stuffing, singing, calling bingo, and talking with residents,” she said.
Every resident got a stocking and went down the line of items and filled their stocking with goodies.
“The residents were blown away. So was I, even though I’ve seen Steiner show up so many times before,” Lyons said.
The Steiner folks said this volunteer opportunity gives them a chance to make a difference and teach their kids to make a difference, to be face to face with people who need help and meet that need.
“And Steiner has never failed to step up and meet that need with the Village,” Lyons said.
For more on how Laney Lyons got her started volunteering, find an expanded story at www.FourPointsNews.com