For Cindy Murray and her daughter Amy the holidays start in Halifax and extend far beyond. Each year Cindy and Amy identify an organization or cause to share their Christmas spirit. This year a Facebook entry, a volunteer from Marshfield, and extensive news about “Mass and Cass” inspired Christmas project 2021.
Cindy had seen a post about kindness bags collected by a local youth group. These are one gallon plastic bags for the homeless. They may include wet wipes, tooth brushes and toothpaste, small bottles of water, socks, snacks, mittens, tissues, chapsticks, and whatever sundries might be in need by people whose home is the street.
Cindy also saw a Facebook post about Bill Selvitelle of Marshfield. After retirement Bill studied and taught yoga. That lead to an initial request for gently worn winter coats from his students. These he delivered to a Plymouth home for Veterans. Bill’s career took him throughout the Boston area where he developed an acute awareness of the homeless. After spreading the word on social media, Bill began collecting and delivering multiple donations to the needy. When Cindy needed advice for this year’s project, she contacted Bill.
Bill had observed that homeless women never have ladies’ handbags, a defining item for many women. He suggested that collecting handbags might be a good idea. Cindy knew that most women have handbags stored and unused. This year’s project would consist of collecting women’s handbags and filling them with women’s necessities. Bill would deliver the collection to Rosie’s Place.
Cindy established a drop off spot on her porch with a goal of twenty bags. She used the Halifax Facebook page to spread the word. Twenty bags became forty and eventually sixty. Monetary donations paid for Dunkin’ gift cards and supplemented toiletry donations with more from the Dollar Store.
The project reinforced Cindy’s respect for her neighbors and townspeople. She said, “In an age of skepticism, no one questioned.” They simply contributed.
The road to Boston meandered through Bill’s town of Marshfield and on to Boston.
Cindy and Bill both note the importance of adding a personal message to the gifts. Cindy assured that each handbag included Christmas cards or messages. When delivering packages, Bill emphasizes the need to establish a personal connection with the homeless. He reflects on the meaningfulness of a five minute conversation.
While Cindy praised the cooperation of Halifax residents, Bill’s world is a little wider. He is similarly in awe of the generosity throughout the South Shore. Both of them experienced an emotional moment when discussing the mission.
“This is the first time in a long time I feel like I am making a small difference,” Cindy said. She is already planning a February project, perhaps backpacks for the gentlemen.