We continue our Community Helper series by shedding some light on the volunteer work of one Shawano woman named Dee Lyons, who devotes countless hours, especially during the holiday season, to ensure local families have a special Christmas.
Lyons has made it her mission to take toy donations from individuals and businesses and make sure they’re given to those who could use a little holiday cheer. She has made stops to local schools, in addition to the homes of families in need.
Dee’s program is called, “Heaven Sent,” which she’s been running for seven years.
“I just help families in need, or anybody that may need something,” said Lyons of her work during the holiday season. “Every year the need changes, so I just help whenever I can and wherever I can.”
Dee tries to help everyone in need, she does have a primary goal she keeps in mind, however.
“Just make children happy and make sure they [have] a gift. Special needs children, children in need, I’m doing the elderly next.”
Lyons explains that she started out focusing on special needs children, which holds a special place in her heart.
“Sometimes they get a bad wrap and so I’m here to ease that a little bit,” Lyons said on why she focuses on those with special needs. “They just get excited, I mean just to see the look on their faces is just overwhelming and that’s why I do it. It hurts to know that maybe a child [isn’t] getting a present and so maybe this is the only one, so that makes me happy.”
When asked what her motivation is, donating her time and effort, Dee responded it’s just who she is.
“I’ve always been a giver, I just like to give, so that’s my motivation, to give and have a good heart,” said Lyons. “It started with donations from six years ago. I just put a plea out there on Facebook and I just got donations every year.”
Lyons wasn’t affiliated with any specific toy drive, so all of her work is done on her own time ensuring that the gifts are equal for all of the children.
“For the most part they’re pretty much the same. I try to keep them the same, especially if I’m going to one area, I don’t want one child getting more than the other, or different, but overall they’re various items. I just take whatever is given and I separate them that way.”
Even though Christmas day is quickly approaching, her work is not yet completed, but she hopes to have all distribution finished before Christmas Eve. Lyons explains it doesn’t matter how many gifts she’s able to distribute, her overall goal is to just see the children’s smiles, and she’ll work to make sure all of the donations have been given to a child, or someone in need.
Although it’s not recognition that she seeks out through her charitable work, she notes that it’s particularly rewarding when a child recognizes what she does.
“Last year at the high school when I delivered there, they were all super welcoming. A couple days later, they were at Pizza Hut, I happened to show up there also, and they all came over and gave me hugs. I mean that’s a wonder full feeling,” Lyons said with a smile.
For Dee, the donations to Heaven Sent have grown since she began seven years ago, as her work has received attention throughout the community. In total, she estimated she made close to 150 stops to help make the holiday season special for many.