Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Angels for Allison

(from a summer AMH 2020 online student)

As my volunteer work I helped out at Angels for Allison, a local nonprofit in my neighborhood.
I chose to give my time here because I have frequently volunteered in the past and the foundation is deeply tied to my community. My close friends, their mothers, and many of my neighbors all come together to work at the paint shop where they create and sell the angels for charity. The profit from these angels goes to families who have lost a young child. The money helps pay for the funerals of the child, and other costs that come along with a loved one’s passing. This mission was all created in memory of Allison Haramis, a young teenager of only 15 years old who passed away from a car wreck. Almost a year after her death in 2009, Angels for Allison began. It first started out by one of my closest friend’s moms painting angels and then deciding they were in memory of Allison. As this spread, she, Allison’s mother, and three other moms in the neighborhood got together in the winter of 2010 to create the nonprofit.
The group started out next to a local restaurant and since then has moved twice, ending up at St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School just down the road. Over the last few years it has become the go to place for community service hours and majority of my friends and old classmates still go up to help out. This made picking a place to volunteer easy, and I was with friends and neighbors while doing it. While I was up at the small house that they use for the store, the ladies put me to work doing cleaning and heavy lifting. When I was younger they had me paint the angels and help in the store, now they had me vacuuming and working in the storage shed. It hadn’t been cleared out in over a year and hundreds of angels and paints were sitting untouched in the back. I emptied out the boxes and changed the dead bulbs. After that I took inventory on all of the merchandise and finished by putting everything back into the shed and organizing it. By the end of that, the store was closing for the day but some work still needed to be done, so I agreed to come in again later that week. When I returned a few days later I fixed some electric wiring in the back rooms and did some more work with inventory. This day however, I was working inside and got to talk with the ladies about the work that they do. They have a long process of finding families in need to help, how much they can aid them, and what the store can do to make more profit. I also helped type in the names of all the companies and families who have donated to Angels for Allison in the last 5 years.
From just those few days of work, I learned more than I would have expected. I had always been so accustomed to the organization being there, that I had never really thought about all the work that is put into it. It amazed me that a small group of mothers I knew could put together a foundation that has helped almost 150 families in North Florida in just the past few years. I realized that this charity has brought my small community so much closer together than it may appear, when everyone who walked through the doors while I was working was a familiar face. Also half the names on the list of donators were family friends and local companies that anyone in Jacksonville would know of. This surprised me, because I had no idea how many people in the area had reached out to support a nonprofit that all started in memory of young girl, and could help so many other families in need around Florida.