‘True Spirit Of Christmas’

To celebrate the holiday season, an area resident and her family put together 500 care packages to distribute to guests of the St. Susan Center soup kitchen of Jamestown.

Liz Cleland, a native of Cattaraugus County who currently lives in Jamestown with her son Mclachlan and wife Katie Cleland, opted to help area residents in need by spending Friday at St. Susan Center to donate holiday themed care packages. The care packages, which were designed for males, females and children, contained necessities such as toothpaste and toothbrushes, razors, diapers and more.

Cleland has done projects for the past five years, benefiting other local organizations such as The Red Cross and women’s shelters. According to Cleland, the idea of the project is to help a local organization, as well as show her son the true meaning of Christmas.

“The true spirit of Christmas is giving,” Cleland said. “I take pride in cooking from scratch, gardening and recycling to teach Mclachlan how to do all the things that my generation doesn’t do. So, he doesn’t really play video games, instead he’s out doing stuff to help. When he’s my age I want him to have community, and by giving back I hope the community will be flourishing by then.”

Cleland acquired a number of the products she donated via couponing, consignment auctions and her blog, funcraftysavymom.blogspot.com, which is a website about living in Western New York, crafting, couponing, healthy eating, gardening and more. The blog currently has more than 10,000 followers.

To distribute the care packages, Cleland set up a table at St. Susan Center, and had her son help decorate the banner as well as give away packages to guests.

“I just love the concept of The Gateway Center,” Cleland said. “I’ve been here before, but never to St. Susan Center – it’s very humbling. To see that people who haven’t eaten, don’t have running water or clothes can come here to have a meal is amazing.”

According to Sue Colwell, executive director of the St. Susan Center, there are so many people who have need, so for Cleland to show she cares by donating packages is a wonderful gesture, she said.

“For Liz to be here all day passing out care packages reminds people who come to St. Susan Center that they aren’t forgotten – I’m thrilled to have her here,” Colwell said. “Programs such as this are part of the season, which can be a depressing time for people, so the name – care packages – says it all.”

The St. Susan Center is located at The Gateway Center, 31 Water St. in Jamestown. For more information, call 664-2253 or visit www.stsusancenter.org.