Read the original article in Spectrum News 1
BY CAM JANDROW WORCESTER COUNTY
PUBLISHED 4:39 PM ET DEC. 05, 2022
WEBSTER, Mass. - The team at Mapfre Insurance is doing their best to make sure the month of December lives up to its moniker as 'the season of giving.'
"Figuring out and understanding where is the biggest need, and where are the gaps that we could help fill with our 'Boxes of Hope' for their organizations," said Linda Johnson, Mapfre's assistant vice president of corporate social responsibilities.Those boxes of hope are filled with toys, games, toiletries and clothing donated by Mapfre's employees.
The inside of their Webster headquarters was reminiscent of the north pole Monday, as it was filled with cardboard boxes, wrapping paper and presents. The insurance company and the United Way teamed up with three local nonprofits who will distribute the boxes to people in need this Christmas.
"They're struggling to make ends meet, right," said United Way of South Central Massachusetts executive director Mary O'Coin. "Or, they haven't been able to and now they're in a shelter. They're not going to have the extra funds to have a present for their kids or even themselves."
St. Luke's Guesthouse is among the beneficiaries this year. The Southbridge shelter's director Marie Smoker said they're currently over capacity and the colder weather is driving more people their way.
But, giving someone a box like the 'Boxes of Hope' is more than just a gift. It's peace of mind as well.
"This is another thing that's not added, one less burden for them to think about, that they have to buy for themselves," Smoker said.
The goal is to hand out between 75 and 100 boxes. Open Sky Community Services and New Hope are the other two organizations taking some to those they serve this holiday.
"Now, with the rise in homelessness, there's still a significant need out there," said Ashley Leiton of Open Sky, a behavioral mental health organization.
"These boxes provide immediate impact," her colleague Ben Jaehne added.
New Hope is a nonprofit serving those affected by domestic and sexual violence. The boxes they receive are not expected to be there long.
"As soon as these things come in to us, they go right out because there's such a need," said CEO Marcia Szymanski. "Unfortunately, with the inflation and the cost of everything going up, it just makes this even more important to our clients."