By Deb Silverthorn
Merissa Kogutt, founder of Live With Purpose Dallas, makes it easier than ever to do good, feel good and share good works.
“Live With Purpose Dallas is a hands-on, right-now, anyone-can-do monthly project that introduces people to organizations all around our community,” said Kogutt. “My goal is of course to help the organizations but also to help our community members find a way to reach out.”
Kogutt finds the beneficiaries, creates the projects and packages up all ingredients and materials. Participants pay a $20 fee per project, pick up the kits from Kogutt and follow her instructions. The completed items are then returned to Kogutt, who delivers them to the organization. No shopping, no shlepping, no “what can we do?” queries.
Most of the projects can be shared by young children along with their families, and each month’s pickup includes information about the beneficiary organization.
Emily Wisniewski and her young children have participated since Live With Purpose Dallas was founded earlier this year. This month, they made no-sew blankets to donate to Dec My Room, an organization to help decorate pediatric hospital rooms.
“I wanted to do something positive as Jews, something we could share with our children,” she said.
“Giving one’s time is at least as important as giving money and our children are learning, as young as they are, of the ‘behind the scenes’ of giving,” said Wisniewski. “They are learning about who they are helping and how it makes a difference to help. Some of the conversations of those in need aren’t easy, but they are important.”
In recent months, participants have put together 547 hygiene kits for Families to Freedom; more than 350 school supply kits for the Educational First Steps program of Equitable Quality Childcare, and 410 beaded keychain kits for young patients of Medical City Children’s Hospital which the hospital shared with patients at Medical City Lewisville.
“Donations of items like the keychains provided, give our patients a sense of normalcy in the hospital,” said Samantha Kleiman, Medical City Child Life specialist. “It often aids in their overall coping while hospitalized.”
Participants have assembled more than 400 soup packages for clients of The Stewpot and 168 laundry kits for the interns of Café Momentum.
“Most of our interns don’t have a washer and dryer at home and it’s expensive to do laundry. The laundry kits make a huge difference to our youth,” said Kristin Kendrick, a senior case manager at Café Momentum. Each laundry kit included a mesh laundry bag packed with quarters, a pair of socks, five laundry pods and dryer sheets — enough to manage 840 loads of laundry.
Café Momentum supports a post-release internship program for justice-involved youth who rotate through all aspects of the restaurant, focusing on life and social skills, coaching and development.
“We are so grateful for the support of Merissa and everyone who participated,” said Kendrick. “Every bit helps, and these kits will go a long way.”
In January, Live With Purpose Dallas participants will make stress balls/fidgets using balloons and rice for the children of Genesis Women’s Shelter; and in February, participants will decorate and fill cups with candies and tea for assisted living residents of The Legacy Senior Communities.
“There are so many agencies in our community who need help and so many people looking for the opportunity to add volunteerism to their lives. Our children, our seniors and everyone in-between, everyone wants to do something good and purposeful with their time.” said Kogutt. “I’m just putting the pieces together and making the introductions.”
For more information, to register or to support Live With Purpose Dallas, visit firstname.lastname@example.org and LiveWithPurposeDallas on Instagram.