2014 Military Special Needs Network Holiday Guide Winter 2014 - Page 5

For eight year old Hailey Fort, giving to those in need is a way of life. Being a military child, meeting a homeless veteran in her hometown in the summer of 2011 struck a chord with Hailey. That afternoon Hailey planted a vegetable garden and Hailey’s Harvest was born.

The first two years, in a plot of land not big enough to park a car on, Hailey grew a dozen carrots, a few handfuls of spinach, and a few pounds of beans, peas and tomatoes that were all donated to those in need within her community. With every delivery, Hailey would introduce herself and ask the name of the person she was meeting; each name being remembered year after year and each becoming a friend.

In the third year, Hailey’s garden expanded fourfold and was able to produce over 120 pounds of food that was delivered and new friends were made. It was in talking with these friends that Hailey knew Hailey’s Harvest needed to grow and start providing basic healthcare items like first-aid kits, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and sanitary napkins as well as coats, hats and scarves.

On Christmas, Hailey will be passing out wool socks, hats and scarves to those in need both in her home town as well as in Seattle.

Magazine / April, 2013 5

continue researching and advocating for my son's future. I navigated the Tricare system alone for two years. We then PCS'd and I found an amazing support group: The Military Special Needs Network, with whom I later became a council member. I was surrounded by other strong, passionate advocates that I could lean on while helping others using what I had learned on my son's journey. If i can help one person struggle less then I did then all my trials and tribulations were worth it.

When our local chapter shifted online, a friend asked me to team up with her and organize local sensory friendly events. We have been going strong for 3 years now and I love helping make these events happen. The special needs world can be a lonely one, so I want families to know they're NOT alone. My children are special needs, however they can attend most "typical" events without issue, but our family's situation could've easily been different.

It only takes one person...one thought put into action to positively impact another person's life.

- Melissa S.

A few years ago, the girls and I began a tradition: Random Acts of Christmas Kindness (RACK). After Thanksgiving dinner, we come up with a list of 31 acts of kindness that we can do in our neighborhood and community to help bring joy to others throughout the month of December.

We have done a lot of things – from taping quarters to the vending machine at our Children’s Hospital, buying grocery gift cards to hand out, paying for the person behind us at McDonalds, to donating books to the library, and bringing hot cocoa to the Salvation Army bell-ringer. Not all cost money, and some of the deeds are very small and simple. But even the smallest, most simple act of kindness can make a difference in someone’s life.

I am amazed at the lessons learned by my children during the season. Their eyes light up when we open a new RACK card each day. They are both learning that it is truly a gift to serve, help, and show kindness to everyone. Their smiles are magical and hearts are filled with delight.

-Wendy K. continued...