Severna Park-based foundation looks to spread hope through gifts for the needy
The Baltimore Sun | Megan Brockett
Baltimore (November 25, 2016) — Kim and David Mitchell stood in a mostly empty Glen Burnie warehouse on Thursday, knowing full well there will hardly be enough room to walk come next month.
In the days ahead, boxes full of Christmas gifts for needy families will cover about 8,000 square feet of the space.
The warehouse acts as the seasonal home of the Mitchells’ Walk the Walk Foundation, which provides mostly Anne Arundel County families with presents to put under the tree.
The foundation is on track to help about 400 families, including more than 1,000 children, this year, the Mitchells said.
At its core, the work is about giving hope, Kim Mitchell said.
“The story that the world puts out is the story of Santa Claus — if you’re not good, you don’t get gifts,” she said. “And to me, that’s not hope … The reason why Christmas happened was to bring hope into the world.”
The Severna Park residents formed the nonprofit foundation in 2005. It sprang from a personal tragedy.
Seven years earlier, Kim Mitchell was halfway through a pregnancy when she went to a routine doctor’s appointment in December and was told the baby had no heartbeat.
A few years later, as Christmastime approached, she found herself wanting to buy Christmas gifts for a boy who would have been her son’s age.
So Mitchell called her aunt, then the principal of a school in West Virginia, and was paired with families there with students who were the right age.
“I was finding families that really needed the help,” Mitchell said.
Friends began asking Mitchell whether she would connect them with families in need at the school, and soon the Mitchells had connected 60 families in need with people wanting to donate gifts. The Walk the Walk Foundation was officially formed a year later.
Today, the foundation works with Anne Arundel County Social Services and a handful of other organizations to compile a list of local families in need.
The Mitchells and a team of volunteers call each of the families on the list and find out clothing sizes, what the families need and what the children would like for Christmas.
Each family is then paired with a sponsor, mostly through local churches, who help with the family’s Christmas list. Donations from three county Toys `R’ Us/ Babies `R’ Us stores help supplement some of the boxes of gifts donated by individual sponsors, the Mitchells said.
St. John Properties, one the county’s largest commercial property owners, donates the warehouse space where the Mitchells keep the donations.
Last year, sponsors donated more than 200 bicycles for families through the Walk the Walk Foundation, Kim Mitchell said.
“My favorite part about it is … seeing the kids … being helped out with some of the basics that they need,” David Mitchell said. “Whether it’s Christmas gifts or school supplies or … diapers and clothes.”
The Mitchells also use the Walk the Walk Foundation as a way to teach their four children about the responsibility of giving back to the community.
And to Kim Mitchell, it’s still about giving more than just gifts.
“This is just my little way of sharing hope,” she said.
Tales of Kindness
Tales of Kindness is a series of stories that look at the people behind some holiday charity drives. To share a story, email us at email@example.com.
To sponsor a family or donate to the Walk the Walk foundation, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.