Do you have that person in your life that is a “behind the scenes” type of person?
She’s not the center of attention or life of the party, but she is the one who quietly gets sh*t done when needed. With no fanfare or requests for help. If someone in her circle needed something, she would be the first one there at 5am, sleeves rolled up and ready to do the work.
If she knows of an entire assisted living home with 64 residents who go without Christmas because there’s no one to shower love on them, she does it. On her own. For years, my Mom Jojo has done this for the people of a place in my hometown. It’s a home my schizophrenic uncle Jay, her brother, lived at off and on for years. She spends the vast majority of her holiday budget on giving strangers a Merry Christmas and letting them know they are loved and worthy.
She’s not a religious person, but I’ve always felt that this is exactly what being a Christian is all about and she embodies the spirit of Jesus. Instead of flying up to Rhode Island on Christmas and spending it with her grandkids, she stays back home in Florida and is wearing her Santa hat at 8:30am, handing out 64+ gift bags, carefully curated with love for the residents who have lined up in anticipation. I don’t even ask her to come up for Christmas anymore because I know she could never let down these people who are looking forward to her love.
My mom is an incredibly special person. A quiet leader who makes a difference in this world, one person at a time. She never asks for credit and would happily do all of this without a penny or compliment from someone else. A few years ago, I shared this picture of her on Facebook and people wanted to know how they can help.
I asked her if she would be ok with me sharing her story, so that others could help too. Uncomfortable with the attention but willing to do it if it could help others, she allowed me to share and help her set up a Venmo account to accept donations.
She spends approximately $3,000 on the gift bags and fills them with gender appropriate gifts and essentials. Some of their favorite gifts were pajamas and jewelry (donated by her girlfriends). I collect gently used or new coats up here in Rhode Island and she flies home with them on Thanksgiving. We fill the gift bags with toiletries they need: toothbrushes and toothpaste (donated by my husband’s office), denture cream, soap, razors and more.
Friends have asked how they could help and there a few ways:
- send the residents a Holiday card or drawing, my son’s school did this a few years ago and they LOVED it, the kids also loved helping out. Message me for her mailing address
- donate any gently used or new coats (men and women, all adult sizes). There are 44 male and 20 female residents this year. I can collect them in RI through Thanksgiving week
- sponsor a resident’s gift bag for $40, you can Venmo her directly (@Joann-Zasoski)
- donate any monetary amount, every little bit will help make their Christmas more special. Everyone will be getting a gift bag, but if there is extra $, that will go towards more essentials like pajamas, undershirts, socks, etc
- help out in your own community this holiday season, visit a nursing home, sponsor a family– just spread the love!