One of the things I’ve loved most about working with Step2 for the last four years is what a generous and genuine company they are. And by that, I mean I’ve seen firsthand many, many times how they place the highest value in real connection and bringing families together.
I was really hoping to continue a fun little project that Step2 created a few years ago called Play It Forward for the holiday season, and I was not disappointed this year! Not only did Step2 donated several new turbo coupe interceptor foot-to-floor police cars to the Streetsboro, Ohio police department, along with a check for $10,000 – they then gave us bloggers free reign to choose our own recipients to “play it forward” to this holiday season!
I’ve had the extreme honor of getting to choose recipients the last couple of years to benefit Step2’s generosity – in 2014, we gifted an amazing Thomas the Tank Engine toddler bed to a local nonprofit that helps provide housing for low-income families, and in 2015, I gave a cute table and chairs set to a friend who was having a tough season, for her kids’ new playroom.
When this year rolled around, I was so thrilled when Step2 said we could again choose a toy to gift to whomever we wanted. As in past years, I deliberated a bit and asked Evan to weigh in. And it didn’t take long to settle on a dear friend of mine. I asked her what her kids might like most…and they were so excited to choose the new Jumbo Art Easel!
My friend Emily is one of those rare people who believes in and looks for the best in everyone. She is always willing to listen and learn from others, and she has such a giving heart. (If you’ve read my book, you got to read about Emily’s big heart and desire for deep connection in Chapter 18!) And she is always quick to lift others up – I have so many messages from Emily with words of affirmation and encouragement and kindness.
Not only does she devote her love to her family, but she is a teacher at an alternative high school and she is constantly looking for ways to engage her students and get them dreaming bigger, working harder and thinking beyond themselves. Each year, she applies for an educational grant (School and Community Outreach by Educators Grants, or SCORE, with the Illinois Education Association) to involve her students with a community project…Several times last year with the grant money, Emily was able to take a group of girls from her classes to serve dinner at a local homeless shelter for women and children.
So we were thrilled to put this awesome toy together for her son, who is 3, and daughter, who is 6 months – such perfect ages to enjoy creating with this Art Easel for a long time! Brenna was getting over a bout of sickness on delivery day, so she stayed in her PJs while Connor and took this to surprise Emily’s family with.
My book, A Different Beautiful, is now available for order!
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