Mom, daughter share 'Spirit of Giving'

December 13, 2010 (LIBERTYVILLE, Ill.)

Now they have recruited a community of family and friends to share in their "spirit of giving."

Their dining room is a makeshift warehouse -- with stacks and rows of toiletries and other pampering products for women. Family and friends become the assembly line workers.

It's all in effort to spread holiday cheer to those who need it most.

"Often a lot of charities have donations for children and things like that, and older women or mothers especially are often forgotten," said Cara Brosten.

The project started 12 years ago when Cara Brosten was just 13.

"It was Sadaka, the Jewish word for charity, and it was for my bat mitzvah," said Cara.

She and her mom, Marcy, made about 10 baskets and delivered them to women in a local homeless shelter.

Now, at 25, Cara is still honoring that project. She and her mom recruit family and friends to also donate to their cause. This year, they expect to give away more than 200 baskets.

"I don't think anything's too small, because in this situation, people who need anything and if you're only helping one person, you're still helping one," Marcy said.

The Libertyville women say making the baskets and hand-delivering them feels more personal than writing a check.

"We all have so much and we don't think about where we're going to get shampoo or deodorant or makeup even," said Marcy, "and we know that there are people that have nothing that leave in the middle of the night with nothing, so that fact that they could have something that's their own."

The pair also want to send a message to others that it doesn't matter what religion you are.

And you certainly don't have to spend a lot of money to make a big impact in your community.

"We used to do it around Thanksgiving and save the baskets and donate them around Mother's Day," said Marcy, "and we just found that Christmas time's a little bit better, something to give them when they're usually worried about their kids and it's just a good time to give gifts to anybody."

The Brostens hope to one day further expand their service project and turn it into an organized foundation.

That way they can help even more women -- not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.

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