Too often we are bombarded with negative news. The negativity weighs us down. In the spirit of the holiday season, here are some random acts of kindness – so that the positivity can lift us up (and hopefully trickle out).
STORIES: Michelle Clark+Leigh Neely+John Sotomayor PHOTOS: Fred Lopez+Provided by Shannon and Cameron Carlyle
It Starts With A Spark
Sometimes all it takes is a need and a willing heart. When they meet, sparks fly. This is true for Hannah Madison, a young lady from Fruitland Park who started her own organization to do something special for the homeless in the area. Hannah organized Spark for Humanity, collecting, assembling, and distributing packs of sorely needed hygiene products. Observing turned to action and sympathy to acts of kindness.
Each pack includes a hand-written note to encourage the recipient. Hannah also offers the gift of prayer to those she meets. Several local ministries and businesses have joined Hannah in her efforts to make a difference and show a little kindness. The spark is growing into a flame.
Hannah began this endeavor out of her family’s own pocket, but to continue, she needs others to give. It is fortunate for Hannah and the homeless population that others chose to get involved. Whether as a group or an individual, you can do something powerful. Hannah is proof that it only takes a spark of compassion to ignite change in people’s lives.
Hannah is just one girl, but she is making a difference in the lives of Lake and Marion counties’ homeless. If you would like to help, reach out to Spark for Humanity by calling 352.255.8835, or email SparkForHumanity@gmail.com. Also, follow Hannah and her journey of kindness on Facebook: facebook.com/SparkForHumanity.
Sandi Wells Moore
And You Get a Card! And You Get a Card! Everyone Gets a Card!
Sandi Wells Moore had her own real life Oprah moment. While waiting to pick up her child at Leesburg High School, Frontier Church volunteers were handing out gift cards for gas to all the parents in the pick up line, including Moore, thanking them for all they do for their families. The parents may not have been given a free car on a daytime TV show, but the feeling of appreciation was felt just as strongly.
Leesburg Bombers baseball coach, Vinny Niglio, was walking near Turners Kitchen+Bar restaurant when he witnessed what he thought was an unpleasant encounter; a hostess come out of the restaurant, presumably to shoo away a homeless man sitting on a nearby bench.
According to Niglio, she came out and shouted, “Are you going to be sitting there?” The man sheepishly nodded yes. She went back inside.
She returned shortly, offering him a freshly made, hot burger. According to Turners owner, Allison Braton, her employee was bartender, Lisa Kobus.
“It warmed my heart,” said Niglio. Ours too!
No Good Deed Goes Unpublished
If not for quick-acting people, cell phone cameras, and social media, no one would know about this heartwarming story. Senior Officer David Foster of the Leesburg Police Department spotted a man struggling to push his motorized scooter. Foster pulled his patrol vehicle over and spoke with the man. Meanwhile, Michael Steadham of Leesburg Rent-All and Sheryl Corley of Ro-Mac Lumber witnessed the interaction.
The man was a retired army veteran. The battery on his motorized scooter ran out somewhere near Beacon College. He decided to push his scooter home, a little over a mile distance on a scorching day. That’s when Officer Foster saw him and stopped. After assessing the situation, Foster turned, locked his vehicle, got him to take a seat and pushed him the rest of the way home, wearing his full heavy patrolman’s uniform.
Officer Foster doesn’t take any personal credit, according to Leesburg Police Lt. Joe Iozzi. In an age where, unfortunately, people distrust police, this act of kindness shows police not only protect and serve, but go above and beyond.
Shannon and Cameron Carlyle
A Birthday Gift for Nkawie
It all began with plans for a mother/daughter spa vacation for Shannon and Cameron Carlyle. “But then my mom decided we needed to do something more,” Cameron said. “She bought two plane tickets to Africa, and then told me about it. I said I guess so, but I was kind of nervous.”
Shannon is an attorney, and Cameron wants to be a doctor. It’s difficult to imagine two people more out of their element. But it turned out Mom was right; it was a great experience.
Seeing the maternity ward was a shock for the teenager. Due to lack of funding, it was a basic structure without modern sterility and comfort. “If the mothers were in labor and had to have an emergency C-section, they were taken outside across a dirt path that wasn’t covered. They were bleeding and the babies were in trouble, but they had to go to the operating theater, which was a football-field length away from the maternity ward,” Cameron said.
After observing this multiple times, Cameron decided, “This needed to be fixed.”
Shannon and Cameron shared their desire with the hospital administration and learned it would take approximately 30,000 Ghanaian Cidis ($10,000 USD) to build their dream. Cameron had no doubt it could be done.
It took about nine months, or an average gestational period, to raise the money for the 2,000-square-foot addition, which has a doctors’ station, an anesthesiologist room, a nurses’ station, an incubator room, and bathrooms.
“We sent it over in little bits, and they were building the whole time,” Cameron said. By the time she had raised about $22,000, the operating theater was finished.
The Cameron Carlyle NKawie Government Maternity Theater officially opened in June, and Cameron went over for the dedication ceremony.