On January 20th, Americans in all 50 states will honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by participating in a National Day of Service. At Plummer, we understand that the service of our volunteers is essential to our mission of #FamilyForEveryone. We are featuring one of our most dedicated volunteers in hopes that her story will inspire others to pick up the phone and give us a call, or sign up here for our next volunteer information session.
Together, we can accomplish so much – just look at Amanda’s story.
Santa’s Busiest Helper
Amanda Gonzales is a Plummer Youth Promise legend. For eight straight years she has captained our Holiday Gift Drive, turning her house into Santa’s workshop and making dreams come true for hundreds of Plummer youth.
But nine years ago, Amanda had barely even heard of Plummer. She tells us that one of her friends was organizing a holiday donation for youth at our group home on Winter Island. She told Amanda about how difficult the holidays could be for youth in foster care and that she wanted to do something to brighten the season for them. Amanda contributed to her friend’s efforts and the Plummer youth remained on her mind.
After a year had passed and the holidays were fast approaching again, she reached out to her friend about donating. But her friend, who already supported Plummer in many ways, now worked full-time and didn’t have the bandwidth to organize another group donation. Amanda realized then that, if this tradition was going to continue, she would have to make it happen. Her friend gave her our number, Amanda tells us, and she thought to herself:
“I don’t know what I can do, but let me just call.”
Almost a decade later, the Holiday Gift Drive has grown into an enormous operation. This year, close to 70 youth had wish lists fulfilled by Amanda and her team. From keeping track of wish lists, to finding and managing sponsors, to overseeing wrapping of hundreds of gifts, Amanda is the both the mastermind of the project and the glue that keeps it together.
It’s hard for Amanda to talk about the gift drive without being overwhelmed by emotion. Her passion for Plummer’s mission is evident in all that she does, but especially when she talks about youth in foster care.
“These kids need to be loved, and they deserve to be loved.”
“It’s not about what you get, but what you give.”
When we asked Amanda how being a Plummer volunteer has changed her life, she responded without hesitation: “For me the biggest impact is teaching my children the real meaning of the holidays… that it’s not about what you get, but what you give and how that makes you feel.”
Amanda explains that the experience has taught her and her children to appreciate what they have and realize how lucky they are, and also to always give back. “I really want them to be givers and helpers,” she says of her kids.
Amanda’s kids are now her biggest helpers during the gift drive. It’s become an important part of their December tradition and no one in the Gonzales family can imagine a holiday season without it.
Last year, Amanda was recognized by the Patriots Foundation for her service to Plummer and accepted a $10,000 check on Plummer’s behalf at a formal ceremony from Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Though Amanda likes to stay out of the spotlight, she says that it felt amazing to know that the money would be going to support Plummer’s work. “That, to me, was the coolest part of it,” she says.
We asked Amanda what she would say to someone who is thinking about becoming a Plummer volunteer.
“I say do it. Don’t even think about it. Because it can be as small as a five-minute commitment, it can be as small as a thought … There are so many ways you can help. Even if you don’t have money to donate or give, you have time.”
She says that volunteering can help you transform your outlook on life while also changing the lives of the people you are serving.
“That kind of gift is priceless to give yourself, and to others.”