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Teen's reaction to neighbors replacing her shattered snow-globe collection is priceless
Courtesy of Stefanny Avera

Janae was delighted to be given dozens of snow globes to replace her beloved collection.

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When Janae was a young child, her grandparents gifted her a snow globe. She was mesmerized by it, which caught her family's attention as it was one of the first "toys" she had ever really played with.

Janae has a rare genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome, which causes a host of developmental and physiological challenges, including learning delays and issues with various organs. At 15 years old, Janae has already been through two open-heart surgeries and countless other medical procedures.

Many kids with Williams Syndrome don't play with toys, preferring to engage with people rather than things. In fact, extreme friendliness and abundant love for everyone they meet are unique features of people with Williams, which is part of why Janae's aunt, Stefanny Avera, describes her as having "a heart of gold."

"It is by far her 'special ability,' although medically it is classified as a disability," says Avera.

When Janae showed a keen interest in snow globes, her family started collecting them in their travels to give to her. She kept the collection on a special shelf in her bedroom.

But one night in January, Janae awoke to a terrible crashing sound. Her snow globe shelf had fallen off the wall, shattering her collection and devastating Janae.

"I was on the phone at the time with her mom and I heard her just bawling," says Avera. "She was so worried that everyone would be upset that they broke and that she'd never get new ones."

Avera wanted to do something to help, so she turned to the local community. She posted a photo of Janae on the Nextdoor app to reach her Thornton, Colorado neighbors and explained what had happened. She thought maybe she could buy some used snow globes from people in the community to help Janae rebuild her collection.

"I expected to get maybe a dozen for her to start," says Avera. "It blew up."

The snow globes started pouring in—and so did people's stories.

One woman donated a Disney snow globe that was given to her years ago during her first job at Disney World.

A traveling nurse who collected snow globes all over the U.S. gifted Janae her entire collection.

Another woman donated three globes that had belonged to her sister who died of cancer 12 years ago. She said this felt like "the perfect opportunity to move forward and let her love for them move on."

A couple who had received two snow globes when they lost a child gave one of them to Janae.

"People dropped them off crying happy tears, watching Janae cry happy tears," says Avera.

Janae's reaction to receiving the influx of snow globes could not be more precious.

People were happy to help and eager to share what their snow globes meant to them.

"We were told many times it was therapeutic to be a part of it all," says Avera. "There were people who told us entire stories about lost loved ones who also collected, people whose children collected them too and heard her story and gifted her some from their collection, people who had loved ones with special needs and love being a part of gifting Janae one."

Nearly ten months later, Janae still gets snow globes dropped off once in a while. "We even get them in the mail from people who heard about it on Nextdoor through friends and they mailed them," says Avera.

Janae has gotten 86 snow globes so far as a result of Avera's Nextdoor post, including globes that have been sent from six different states. When she gets duplicates, Jane gifts them to other kids, keeping the generosity flowing.

When asked how she feels about her snow globes, Janae said, "I'm just happy and blessed to have been given them."

It's incredible how people will step up to help out when asked. Janae's shelf falling may have felt tragic at the time, but her aunt reaching out to her neighbors resulted in a wave of support and heartfelt human connection, which is what being part of a community is all about.

"To see not only our community but people across the country share and reach out, to see so many people cry and share in this moment of happiness has been an amazing and humbling experience," says Avera.

In honor of Neighbor Month, Nextdoor is celebrating the people and places nearby that make our neighborhoods wonderful. Share a story about why you #LoveYourNeighborhood on your @Nextdoor newsfeed for a chance to be featured for Neighbor Month.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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