How a father-daughter duo is bringing joy to people's lives by doing what they love.
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Each holiday season, father-daughter team Ty and Vicky Shen pull out their trusty map and deliver delicious meals to people in need.

Vicky (left) and Ty Shen. Image via Vicky Shen, used with permission.

Once they've planned out their route, they load up their station wagon with all the hot meals and holiday baskets they can fit and then drive around Massachusetts — going door to door until their car is empty. They do this over and over all day until there's nothing left to be delivered.


"I've been a firm believer that those who can help, should," writes Ty in an email. "Regardless if it's time or other resources, helping our fellow man is our responsibility."

That's why, in 2001, Ty and Vicky decided to start this tradition in the first place. They loved volunteering, and Community Servings, a local nonprofit food program, was the perfect choice since they could share the open road together and, most importantly, bring joy to people's lives.

Community Servings provides medically tailored meals to individuals and families living with critical and chronic illnesses.

With 15 different medical diets on their menu, clients across Massachusetts and Rhode Island receive the perfect nutrition combination for their specific health conditions right on their doorstep. On top of that, Community Servings also provides supplementary meals for caregivers and dependent children to make sure every tummy in the house is filled up daily.

Volunteers happily hard at work. Image via Community Servings, used with permission.

Vicky fell in love with the cause when she first entered their kitchen some 16 years ago as a corps member of City Year Boston — an education-focused student support organization. Once she learned about the holiday deliveries, she knew she needed to get her family involved right then and there. After all, the spirit of helping others, Ty says, runs in Vicky's veins.

"Volunteering with [Community Servings] with my dad is one of my favorite things to do," writes Vicky. "I get to spend time with my dad, and the people at [Community Servings] who are so wonderful, and really do something that on a daily basis helps people's lives be a little bit better. "

And since they've started, they've done everything from chopping cabbage to chatting up guests to prepping the actual baskets. Whatever's needed, they're right there, ready to push the mission forward.

Delivering holiday meals in style. Image via Community Servings, used with permission.

Community Servings offers an important and much-needed service — and it wouldn't be possible without the dedication of all their volunteers.

"Each year, our volunteers give more than 55,000 hours of service, which is the equivalent to almost 30 full time employees," explains Community Servings CEO David Waters in an email. "There's no way we'd be able to serve the 1,850 individuals and families we do each year without their generous efforts."

In fact, thanks to their volunteers, Community Servings is able to prep 2,200 made-from-scratch meals every day. And just this past January, they celebrated their 7 millionth meal. (That's right. 7 million!)

8 million meals, here we come. Image via Community Servings, used with permission.

For everyone who hits the road for Community Servings, it's all about bringing joy to as many people as possible.

So whether you're a college student, retiree, parolee, or corporate professional, all Community Servings asks for is a shared passion for service. That's the heart of their mission and exactly why Ty and Vicky got involved to begin with.

Vicky goes on to add, "My involvement in [Community Servings] has been one of the pieces of my life that has made me realize how important it is to try to make a difference and make the world a better place every day."

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.