Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.
In early 2011, my dad Kent was diagnosed with leukemia. He died only two months later. He had a full life — he ran his own furniture company and sold custom-made furniture that he personally designed. An avid traveler, he’d visited most of the planet (his favorite was Egypt), and he went skydiving about 25 different times. For about the last decade of his life, he had spent every Thanksgiving handing out meals to families in need where he lived in Dallas, Texas. He did this on his own dime.
The first year he tried out his idea, he delivered a basket of food to only one family. He found the activity so satisfying that he tried to rope everyone he knew into joining him. I remember as a teenager getting into his car at the crack of dawn and sleeping while he drove door to door, dropping off bags of food for strangers. He just had to help more people, and his energy was infectious. The Thanksgiving before he was diagnosed, he and his friends delivered meals to about 300 households — a personal record.
After he died, I had been searching for a way to feel more connected to him. One day, about six months after he died, I was driving home from work and it occurred to me that no one would be running his project in his absence. Oftentimes when people die, their projects die with them. Nonetheless, I thought I might try to reproduce his idea here in New Hampshire. I wanted to honor his memory. I knew I’d need some help, though, and I posted my idea on Facebook. I got a huge response, and I ended up raising about $1,000, and volunteers joined me to deliver Thanksgiving meals to about 50 NH households.
That was in 2011, and my little idea has grown by leaps and bounds every year. What we now call Shire Sharing is an official 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a Board of Directors. Last year we delivered Thanksgiving meals to 501 households, beating my dad’s personal record of 300.
All these years after his death, my dad’s passion is still so infectious — everyone on the board works for free. Organizations from all over the city want to lend a hand, like Starving Artist Movers, which helps us truck our supplies around, and Brady Sullivan Properties, which provides us with free warehouse space. A couple years ago, we added a coat drive to the mix, and now in addition to Thanksgiving meals that warm tummies, we provide warm winter coats to NH’s children.
On November 18th at 10 a.m., we invite all Granite Staters to join us at 4 Technology Drive in Londonderry for our “Assembly Party”. This is the day that we’ll be preparing the bags of goodies for delivery. We customize each bag for its recipient, as we make Thanksgiving deliveries to people of all kinds — veterans, single parents, elderly people, refugees, and more. Some people are diabetic or vegetarian, some families are large, and some people live alone. So each bag is special! This is a kid-friendly event.
On November 19th at 10 a.m., we will be departing from the same address to make these Thanksgiving deliveries right to the doors of people in need, just like my dad did when I was young. If you would like to sign up to be one of our special delivery people, you can do so at ShireSharing.org/volunteer.
Every year, Shire Sharing gives me an opportunity to work through my grief and loss alongside hundreds of energetic and passionate volunteers and donors who never even met him. If there is someone you’ve lost, I recommend finding a way to honor their memory through happy, loving activities that improve the lives of others. It’s a bittersweet experience for me, because I wish that he could be here to see what has been accomplished in his name, but at the same time, I know that I would not have started this project if he hadn’t passed away. To donate to our cause, please visit ShireSharing.org/donate!
Amanda Bouldin lives in Manchester with her husband Andrew, daughter Sophia, and chihuahua Jack. She has served as State Representative since 2014 and is the President of Shire Sharing, a nonprofit organization that provides Thanksgiving meals to needy families in the Granite State.