week 45: this week i'm gonna... celebrate love
In 1992, Tom Ramsey was bankrupt and struggling to pay rent and feed his family, despite having a job. The kindness of his landlord and a friend allowed him and his family to have a place to live, but he struggled with depression during his financial hardship. One Sunday afternoon, Ramsey volunteered for a program called Celebration of Love and helped to give food to needy families. That 45 minutes changed his life.
Ramsey saw the positive effect that the program had on others and also realized that he himself felt better, so he decided to get involved in philanthropy. In 1999, Ramsey moved to Texas and started several ventures to help others. In 2003, Ramsey started his own Celebration of Love program to provide meals and gifts to families during the Christmas season. The first year the program launched, it fed approximately 500 families. Last year, in 2015, Celebration of Love fed over 1,800 families around the holidays.
Celebration of Love has grown to include a food pantry in Round Rock, TX (opened in 2006) that now feeds approximately 200+ families every week. Their Circle of Love program continues to help families around the holidays, and their Soldiers of America program assists veterans and military families. Recently, Celebration of Love started organizing "Welcome Home Soldier" events to celebrate and thank our soldiers returning from duty.
About 99% of each dollar donated to Celebration of Love goes toward food and supplies for programs.
“We’re everyday people, and we want to give back to the community as much as we can,” Ramsey says. “When you give to this organization, it really truly gets right back into the hands of the needy families.”
Celebration of Love is dedicated to helping Central Texas individuals and families in need. Through their campaigns to fight hunger, respond to emergency disaster situations with food and water, and provide support for our U.S. veterans, soldiers, and their families, Celebration of Love works year-round to help those in need and those who keep our country safe.
Celebration of Love started as a one-day holiday outreach event for approximately 500 families. It grew into an organization which now serves thousands of families throughout the year, providing supplemental food and resources to those in need through the following initiatives:
- The Reaching Out Center Food Pantry, which serves over 200 families each week and also supports Fort Hood's ACS food pantry with canned and dried goods;
- The Soldiers of America program, which assists veterans and military families stationed at Fort Hood; and
- Circle of Love, which provides turkey meals and toys to families selected by local school districts around the holidays.
This past April, Staff Sgt. Warren Guidry boarded a plane in Baghdad and headed home. Tired and excited, he couldn't wait to see his family. After completing six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and serving in the Army for eleven years, he was nervous about his homecoming.
As he approached his apartment, he saw people waving flags, holding up welcome signs, and cheering. Was this all for him? Who were all these people? He wasn't sure what to think until he saw his family cheering with the crowd.
After greeting his family, he was told that everyone there was showing their appreciation for his service to our country as part of a "Welcome Home Soldier" event led by Celebration of Love. Local supporters, volunteers, and community members had gathered in his honor to welcome him home. He was humbled by the fanfare and also grateful for the free barbeque lunch! States Guidry, "I've been in the military for 11 years and nobody has ever done anything even close to this. It meant a lot to have all those people there. I really want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart."
Notes for this week:
- Veterans' Day is November 11th. Please thank the men and women that have risked their lives to serve our country.
- Our collective givetwig donation will feed over 30 military families this holiday season.
- The holiday season is approaching! If you live in the Austin area and would like information on donating time, gifts, or additional money to Celebration of Love, or if you know a soldier that could be a candidate for a "Welcome Home" event, please contact Kendra Cofer, Executive Director of Celebration of Love.
- For further information regarding Celebration of Love, please check out their website.
this week i'm gonna donate to Celebration of Love.