Severna Park Voice
Giving Back, Linda’s Legacy Prepares For Upcoming Season
November 3, 2016
fter more than a year since the sudden death of Linda Greenberg, the founder of Giving Back, Linda’s Legacy (GBLL), her spirit remains thanks to the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and the unwavering commitment and dedication of Executive Director Jeanette Middleton-Sudano.
“It’s really quite amazing to think that we are entering our second holiday season without Linda,” said Middleton-Sudano. “In many ways, it’s as if she is still here guiding me and Giving Back, Linda’s Legacy. I feel her presence in many ways.”
On October 19, more than 100 people joined Middleton-Sudano at Woods Memorial Church for a GBLL meeting. Middleton-Sudano and other leaders saw many familiar faces in the crowd, but they were astonished to see so many new eager and interested potential volunteers. Middleton-Sudano estimated that approximately 80 percent of those in attendance were new to Giving Back.
“I am sure Linda was delighted to see that her life work and mission are stronger than ever,” said Middleton-Sudano. “When I talk about Linda or when I hear her voice in the video we played for the group, I feel her.”
While the army of Giving Back volunteers has never been stronger, the need has never been greater for items like toiletries, new and gently used winter clothes, shoes, new baby items, blankets, small appliances, sleeping bags, diapers, women’s hygiene items, linens, new underwear and toys.
Middleton-Sudano said that shelters are seeing an increase in homeless women and entire families with young children.
“Engaging young people — and now entire families — is so very important and fundamental to Giving Back, Linda’s Legacy’s mission,” Middleton-Sudano added. “We have entire families forgoing gift exchanges or large family dinners to spend time sharing their blessings with people in need.”
Melissa Freymann emphasized that volunteering with GBLL is a great opportunity for children. “My family started volunteering three years ago because my eldest wanted to help the homeless, and it is difficult to find a charity that allows young kids to help in a way that they feel valuable and helpful,” Freymann said. “Giving Back allows children of all ages to help in age-appropriate ways in a safe, controlled environment.”
Freymann said her family first got involved by making toiletry kits, writing Christmas cards and stuffing backpacks before they ultimately went out on Christmas Eve to help Linda’s Legacy deliver items to people in need.
Volunteering “has changed our family and the way we look at possessions and the world,” Freymann said. “The first year we volunteered, my eldest daughter, Elizabeth, donated her American Girl doll to a little girl [in a shelter] who needed a friend and didn’t have any toys.
“Seeing and feeling the reaction of the young girl inspired my other daughter to donate her doll and all of us to donate many of the things that we had but did not need,” added Freymann. Now, donation is a year-round activity.
Until she started volunteering with GBLL, 10-year-old Abigail said she didn’t really think about homeless people the way she does now.
“There are more homeless people than I thought,” said Abigail. “They really do need our help. You realize how much people need you, and you realize how much people need you in the world.”
Elizabeth, age 12, encourages anyone to get involved. “They are human beings and they are beautiful in God’s eyes, so why not in ours?” asked Elizabeth.
Catherine, age 8, is watching her parents and older siblings and modeling her behavior after them. “It makes me happy to help others,” she said. “You can bring joy to others.”
Hearing statements like these has led Freymann to believe that “Giving Back has done more for us than we have to offer. The people we've met and the opportunity to love strangers cannot be measured.”
The signature component of the GBLL holiday drive is the backpack program. Organizations around the county are committed to creating more than 3,000 backpacks stuffed with at least a thermal top and bottom, socks, gloves, a hat and a sweatshirt this season.
Many organizations will also add a handmade card, a scarf or toiletries. After the donations are collected, volunteers and families like the Freymanns will make shelter deliveries in Baltimore on Christmas Eve.
To learn how you, your family or organization can get involved with Giving Back, Linda’s Legacy, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I feel I can say this with the greatest confidence,” added Middleton-Sudano. “This experience changes your whole outlook on Christmas.”