Leelanau News and Events

Kindness In Leelanau: Bright Spots For December’s Shortest Days

By Emily Tyra | Dec. 22, 2021

The shortest day of the year happened with the winter solstice yesterday. Luckily neighbors across the county have no shortage of bright spots to share. (And it only gets brighter from here.)

In October, we hired a photographer to help us capture some floral designs for our website revamp and had about 15 that needed homes. We didn’t think trying to sell them would be appropriate, so instead decided to donate them back to the community that helped get us here. I put out a post on social media asking the public to message me with anyone they thought could use a pick-me-up. The response was overwhelming! All types of scenarios: teens who are struggling with depression, teachers that work so hard to hold everyone up, lonely windows and widowers (one woman who lost her husband and son in the same year), local restaurant staff who have been there since the start of COVID.

The card messages that were included said simply: “someone out there thinks you deserve these.”

It warmed my heart to be able to do this! Our voicemail was soon full with messages of gratitude and surprise. I wish people could see the reaction and look on their faces when we walk up to the door with flowers, I wish they could hear the voicemails, and read the messages. It seems like there are a lot of folks out there right now who are struggling. Simply being considered or thought of means so much to someone who might not be at their best. —Carly Campbell, Owner, Forget-Me-Not-Florist, Suttons Bay

My husband and I enjoy volunteering at Leelanau Christian Neighbors (LCN), a collaborative effort of 14 different churches in the county. We often read about how LCN meets the needs of so many residents in our county. What we don’t often hear are the stories of how the neighbors [who shop at the pantry] give back to others. One gentleman who frequently visits the food pantry is known for folding dollar bills, origami-style, into different shapes...often it’s a shirt, complete with sleeves and a collar. He enjoys giving them to folks at the food pantry — other neighbors, volunteers and especially young children. During the holiday season, I was checking people in at the computer: First a young mom with a small boy, maybe around 5-years-old. The gentleman also checked in. They each went on their way to shop. But before the gentleman left, he stopped by, handed me a folded dollar shirt, and asked me to give it to the boy, adding ‘tell him Santa Claus wanted him to have it.’ I did as he requested. He looked at his mom to make sure it was okay to accept it, and she was quick to join in the fun. He left feeling like he was a favorite of the “Big Guy at the North Pole;” the mom had fun watching her son’s big eyes light up; I had fun being part of the surprise. “For it is in giving that we receive.” —St. Francis of Assisi —Nancy Elmore, Suttons Bay

When we were getting ready for [my kids’] Wyatt and Brit’s wedding in our barn, I was concerned about the strength of the main floor, supported about 10 feet above the basement. I called our friend and neighbor Dale Scheiern, who is an architect and builder, and asked him if he’d come over and assess the situation and recommend how and where to place structural support posts to make sure nobody suddenly ended up in the basement. And he did. He made some mental calculations for weight distribution and structural load and explained how the stress of the weight would flow to various supports...all for no charge and then headed on home. And we did just what he said to do, poking in about a dozen 8-by-8 structural posts below a main dining area. All guests were safe and sound and the wedding was just wonderful. —Jeff Smith, Cedar

I am always buoyed by the acts of caring kindness among my Leelanau friends and acquaintances who give so much of their time in volunteering. The Glen Arbor Women’s Club make college scholarships possible to Glen Lake High School seniors through tireless efforts in making the annual Running Bear Run fundraiser happen. It’s a labor love that truly builds community spirit and friendship while making a difference in the lives of area students. Many of these women are deeply involved in other meaningful volunteer efforts that target food insecurity, child welfare, local arts and theatre, to name a few. These strong women are a force! —Karin Summers, Elmwood Township resident and Glen Arbor Women’s Club member

Snow fell relentlessly that dark, December evening. But like any good Diet Coke-a-holic, I wouldn’t let the elements deny me. I left my apartment and trudged through drifts and across icy streets until I reached the BP gas station in downtown Suttons Bay. At one of the pumps, a man was gassing up his red tractor/snowplow. But I paid him barely a glance. I was trained like a hunting dog on my prey. Inside, ice-cold Diet Coke cans glistened behind refrigerated glass. Ah, salvation! Except…

…when I reached the register with two cans and my credit card, the attendant said, ‘The machine’s not working. We’re only taking cash.’  He just as well could have said, ‘Your mother no longer loves you.’ It would take another 45 minutes to walk home to get some bills.

Like a mini Christmas miracle, a voice behind me said, ‘I’ll get them.’ I turned: It was the guy with the tractor, who I’d barely noticed outside. I certainly noticed him now — and his rugged good looks. He paid for my Diet Cokes with cash while I thanked him profusely.

Had this been a holiday movie on Netflix, our meet-cute would have kicked off a wonderful winter romance. But no, this was real life. As I crossed M-22 toward home, I glanced over my shoulder and saw the rear lights of his tractor shrinking against the night sky. I’ll likely never see him again. On the other hand, I’ll always know there are good men in Leelanau County. —Lucinda Hahn, Suttons Bay

Click here for more Random Acts Of Leelanau.


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