Program Makes Season Brighter For Families Grieving Loss of Loved One

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CLIVE, Iowa -The holidays can be an overwhelming time for families grieving the loss of a loved one. An Iowa organization is trying to make the holiday season a little brighter for families during the dark time.

Pictures and memories are what McCormick Knapp has left of his dad. “They`re all slowly fading away. I still have some,” said the 7 year-old.

His dad Bill Knapp died last year. “He died in February of 2018. February 15th,” said Myra Knapp.

The following months were full of grief, especially as anniversaries and holidays approached. “You`re getting a meal together, and you`re cleaning the house, and you`re doing presents. You`re planning visits, and all of these other things are keeping you busy, and you`re not paying attention to how you feel, and all of a sudden it comes out and hits you,” said Myra.

Then one day in December of last year, the family got a surprise. “We just were sitting at home one day and the doorbell rang, and there were people on our doorstep with a box full of gifts for us,” Myra said.

It was a cheer box. It’s a program through EveryStep Grief and Loss Services home of Amanda the Panda. “It`s really geared toward honoring their loved one and just remembering them during the holiday season,” said Megan Mondt, with EveryStep Grief and Loss Services.

The box has 12 intentional items, including a teddy bear, memory box book, picture frame, and journal. “Just designed to bring joy and lighten and brighten the holidays for those experiencing the loss of a loved one,” said Mondt.

The organization delivered 309 last year. The goal is to deliver 400 cheer boxes this holiday season. Volunteers are needed to wrap all the presents and deliver to the families.

"With wrapping, there’s about 200 shifts we have for wrapping. And with 400 boxes we definitely have at least 200 that we`re looking to deliver all these boxes to those nominees and families,” said Mondt.

People nominate grieving families across the state of Iowa, so volunteers are especially needed to deliver.

The Knapps said it made their holiday season a little brighter. Myra said,“The fact that the thought and effort went into it and someone brought it to us and showed up on our doorstep was really special.”

To help with wrapping, EveryStep Grief and Loss Services Home of Amanda the Panda will host a major wrapping event the week of Thanksgiving. Volunteers will meet at Bertini Tile in Urbandale Sunday, November 24th through Wednesday, November 27th to help with wrapping. Registration is required. You can sign up here: or call Megan Mondt at 515-223-4847.

Cheer Boxes will be delivered starting the week of December 1st. You can sign up to do that by calling Megan Mondt at 515-223-4847.

Nominations can be made online by filling out this form:

Nominations are due in November.

Send an email to, if you have questions.


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