The holiday season is right around corner and for some, it can be very difficult. One local woman spends the holiday season giving back to others by making stockings for cancer patients.
Dawn Hennlein created the Big Blessed Hearts Stocking Project while grieving the loss of her parents who both suffered from cancer.
“My mom always said if you see someone without a smile, give them yours,” said Hennlein. “That was in the back of my head all the time.”
Since 2012, Hennlein stuffs stockings filled with different items people could find useful during their battle with cancer. The memory of her parents found on each stocking. The logo shows a pink heart which represents her mom, Doris Knopp, and a blue heart that represents her dad, Charles Knopp. The two hearts overlap to make a purple ribbon for all cancer.
“It makes the grief a little bit more bearable,” said Hennlein. “I mean it’s always there. You don’t ever get over it. But when you do something for somebody else it takes away whatever little hole you may have in your heart that you didn’t even know was there.”
When Hennlein first started the project, she made just 24 stockings. This year she will have 120. That’s 120 complete strangers that will receive a holiday gift from someone just looking to give back.
“Even though I get overwhelmed it is growing bigger which I’m so grateful for,” said Hennlein. “It just means we’re touching more people.”
Hennlein says all she needs is a name and where the stocking need to go. From there, she either delivers the stocking in person if the recipient is local. If not, she can ship the stocking to any location.
Her motivation is simply spreading holiday joy to those in need and making her parents proud.
“I have people say to me all the time how proud they are,” said Hennlein. “I just know they think it’s awesome. I know they’re just like ‘that’s my girl. That’s why I do it.”