VAN METER, Iowa – For many families suffering the recent loss of a loved ones, the holidays can be a hard time of year.
That’s why Amanda the Panda, a Central Iowa organization focused on helping heal grieving families, is spreading holiday cheer – 12 days of it, to be exact. The group sends “Holiday Cheer Boxes” to families in Central Iowa for the 12 days leading up to Christmas; these boxes vary family-to-family, but usually include items for children to enjoy, as well as gifts meant to console a grieving family.
One family in Van Meter was surprised to be a recipient of the cheer boxes this year; Allissa and Jerrod Johnson have volunteered with the group for the past six years. After enduring the losses of several loved ones this year, they were overjoyed to find a box delivered to their home last week.
“Now being on the other side, I realize the impact that Amanda the Panda has,” Allissa Johnson said. “I never really knew that true feeling; you know, people would tell us when we volunteered, ‘Thank you so much for everything you do.’ But on the receiving side, there’s no way to thank somebody for remembering what you’ve been through this year.”
Amanda the Panda is already gearing up for its holiday cheer boxes next Christmas. You can help with a monetary donation, or you can order something off the group’s Amazon Wish List here.