Often when businesses close up, their owners liquidate their assets to squeeze out the last bit of change from their defunct operations. But one Loudouner opted to forgo that cash to help her neighbors.
Purcellville resident and Realtor Laura Kowalczyk earlier this year started the Goodie Giveaway initiative to donate children’s activity items to residents isolated at home during the coronavirus crisis. Those items were part of excess inventory from the Party Pals mobile children’s party business, which Kowalczyk’s family started in 2012 and retired two years ago. Kowalczyk said she had about 60 large tubs of the excess inventory—including educational items like books, outdoor games, crafts and puzzles. Those items took up half the room in her two-car garage and all the room in a mobile trailer.
Kowalczyk said she woke up one day and felt compelled to give away all of those items. Now, they’re almost entirely gone—donated to about 300 families and 900 children who picked up personalized gift bags from a socially distanced table set up at the end of Kowalczyk’s driveway.
During those pickups, Kowalczyk got to know some of her neighbors better, which helped her to provide additional assistance. She provided one family with extra of items—a family of six with a mother who worked as a hospital nurse and was exhausted from the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kowalczyk also gave diapers and baby wipes to a young couple that recently was given custody of three kids following a family tragedy. Kowalczyk’s daughter even started a GoFundMe campaign for that family, which is hoping to raise $10,000.
The initiative quickly transformed into more formal giveaway campaigns for holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Easter Goodie Giveaway supplied 80 families with bags full of spring and Easter-themed items. The Trampoline Goodie Giveaway sawKowalczyk give away her trampoline to another family.The Mother’s Day GoodieGiveaway supplied four mothers with brunch from theStoneleigh Golf Club. The Father’s Day Goodie Giveaway provided sixfathers with individualized fishing trips on the Shenandoah River followed by riverside cookouts. And the July 4 Goodie Giveaway saw Dogwood Properties of Virginia donateoutdoor games, American flags and other summertime items to two families, one of which had a 5-year-old hooked up to a ventilator after being in a months-long coma.
“It’s been a wonderful, rewarding campaign,” Kowalczyk said. “There are no words to describe how touching it is.”
Now, Kowalczyk is working on the Graduation Goodie Giveaway, which will benefit one high school and one college 2020 graduate. Those grads will bring along three friends or family members for a half day of floating down the Shenandoah River, with a floating food boat in tow, which Kowalczyk and her husband, Oliver, will use to grill hotdogs and hamburgers for the graduates. The winners of that giveaway will also stop at a waterfall for a photo op. “It’ll be memorable,” Kowalczyk said.
To nominate a graduate for that giveaway, contact Kowalczyk at [email protected] or 571-428-1220 by Thursday, July 16.
Kowalczyk said she’s looking to host a few other giveaways using the last remaining tubs of kids’ activity items.
She said she hopes her Goodie Giveaway initiative inspires others to help their neighbors. She said the world would be a much better place if every single person were to show one act of kindness toward another person.
“It doesn’t take much,” she said. “To just give a little love, that’s what it’s all about.”