STEPHENSON, Mich. (WJMN) – The people of Stephenson, Michigan are creating opportunities to help their neighbors. Leading the charge on this charitable mission is Shelby Beck. She founded Project Give in 2014, and hasn’t stopped helping people since then.
Beck said there was a need not being met. There were a lot of people who wanted to help and people who needed it, but no bridge to connect them.
“It’s been incredible. When we first started doing our projects, I had no idea what they were going to snowball into,” said Beck. “There was a handful of people that first came forward saying they needed help as well as people saying they were willing to help and through the years it’s grown into this group of hundreds if not thousands of people we’ve been able to help.”
Project Give is that bridge. It crosses the river between Menominee County in Michigan and Marinette, Wisconsin. Whether it’s assisting school age kids, elderly neighbors, or animals, they cover a variety of groups and issues, connecting people with ways to help.
“With the help of local community members who are really just digging deep and extra generous, ” Beck added. “There’s something to be said about small towns. I know you always hear the cliche of there’s nothing better than a small town. I think those living there can attest that it’s true and there are always people willing to roll up their sleeves and help when necessary.”
Project Give set the goal of a monthly opportunity to serve and the needs are always changing. Earlier this year, they did a snack drive to keep students from going hungry on the weekends. They donated truckloads of food to elementary schools.
“There’s a lot of good happening in small towns. Growing up in the Upper Peninsula, I can say it is like a big family. “There’s good happening all over. You just have to open your eyes to it,” said Beck.
Beck isn’t doing all of this on her own. Erica Kuehnau has been volunteering her time and efforts to Project Give. These two graduated high school together.
“When she started doing this, it really opened my eyes,” said Kuehnau. “Usually the people creating these events and kind of thing, you don’t know them. Seeing it was somebody I knew so well, who cared so much about what’s going on in this town, it made me want to be part of it too.”
Her favorite yearly project is the Tree of Lights. People pick cards off of a tree and buy Christmas gifts for families in the area.
“You know what you’re doing is actually going somewhere,” added Kuehnau It’s not like you’re just donating money and it disappears to somewhere. It’s going to people you may know and making a huge impact on what we can do for them.”
Beck says the ideas for these projects come from community members. Many of their events are supply drives.
“They came to light because a community member came to me and said have you ever thought about doing a project for x,y,z or something like that,” said Beck. “Giving people the power to take what they are passionate or concerned about and actually see a difference being made it in that area is huge and it gives people the chance to see the difference they can make.”
Whether it’s a gift of time or money, this community, this family, continues to support itself, whatever the need.
“Whether we’re united by blood or not, we work together to make everything run smoothly. Just a little bit of positivity, it spreads. It gets everyone in the Christmas spirit doing the tree of light. It makes everyone want to be more generous and more compassionate.
The best way to get involved, suggest an idea, or make a donation, contact Project Give on social media.