A mother and daughter are using their love of charity to spread holiday cheer across Oberlin and beyond.
Through the Cleveland chapter of WoodmenLife, a not-for-profit insurance company, Mary Lou and Julie Mullins have partnered with students in the Interact Club at Oberlin High School to help those who are less fortunate.
The Interact Club hosts a backpack program that provides weekend meals for students who qualify for the free-and-reduced lunch program.
After learning about the program through an article in our paper, the Mullinses reached out to their local chapter. A donation of $500 was made to feed 125 students for one weekend.
After presenting the donation, the Mullinses walked out to their car and noticed a tattered flag waving in the parking lot. The next day, Mary Lou took two brand new flags to high school principal William Bayless.
The chapter has also distributed flags in Brighton Township, Wellington, and Camden Township.
The Mullinses also partnered with the club to make Christmas stockings for an assisted living facility in Florida. The students filled them with personal hygiene items for the residents to have something to open on Dec. 25.
Interact Club advisor Donna Shurr told the Mullinses about Oberlin Community Services, which led to another act of kindness. A donation of $300 was given to OCS toward purchases for the food pantry.
Julie’s 21 years of community outreach was inspired by three mission trips to Mexico in 1996.
“They totally changed my perspective. Seeing what other people don’t have compared to what you have really makes you think twice about everything,” she said.
Her mother said kindness has always been in her blood.
“She’s a twin and even when she was a kid, when someone gave her a cookie, she would ask, ‘Can I have one for my sister?’ She’s always been a giver,” Mary Lou said.
Julie started by taking part in Operation Christmas Child and Shoebox International, which distribute boxes of toys, trinkets, and basic necessities to children in non-First World countries. She then made care packages for homeless shelters, homes for battered women, and children’s hospitals.
“It is rewarding to see people get things they don’t or can’t have,” she said.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.