For some it’s a pair of warm socks while for others a new play set for their children. Maybe it’s a surprise date night or help with food for a holiday meal. The holiday requests come in to Newby-ginnings from many different people and situations, and remarkably they are all met thanks to the generosity of this community.
When Theresa Hart started Newby-ginnings in October of 2013, her mission was to provide any kind of help she could to local veterans, military families and Gold Star families, all to honor her son Nick Newby, who was killed by an IED while in Iraq on July 7 of 2011. From that immeasurable tragedy, near countless impactful acts of kindness, support and generosity have ensued, something that has undoubtedly been beyond anything Theresa could have initially imagined.
From a couple of small cramped spaces to a now nearly 6,000-square-foot warehouse, Newby-ginnings is a place not just for military families and veterans to receive needed household items and clothing but a place for them to come and meet others who are all connected through service to the country.
“We have some vets that come by the shop every day, it’s part of their routine,” said Theresa. “It’s about the least threatening place on the planet.”
Volunteers staff the center Monday through Wednesday. It’s filled with clothing, kitchen appliances, electronics, furniture and just about anything they can procure that can help a military family in need of assistance. More than the items, it’s a community where those military affiliated can be matched with other services or to simply just meet up and chat.
When Theresa started Newby-ginnings, she was only beginning to collect donations. Just weeks after the doors were open, the holidays were on and so were the requests for help providing a memorable Christmas to local military children. “I didn’t have much stuff at the time, so I put a call out to the community and of course got an amazing response,” recalled Theresa.
That first year, Newby-ginnings was able to match 12 families with local sponsors who were willing to help make these families’ holiday season a little brighter. Last year that number rose to 64 families sponsored with even more local families, groups, businesses and clubs ready to help. “I always tell them (the sponsors), you’re not creating Christmas for them, you are just making it better and brighter,” said Theresa.
Each year in November, families can begin reaching out to Newby-ginnings with holiday requests. Theresa has the families fill out a survey which includes their basic information as well as clothing sizes and a line for special requests for both adults and kids. She then goes to her database of sponsors and finds a match for each family. Unlike some other organizations where you don’t get to see or hear from the recipient, Theresa encourages each sponsor to call up their family once matched and says once the match is made she steps away and lets things play out between the two. “A big part of our overall mission is building relationships,” she said.
Sponsors include individual community members, families, local businesses, groups and clubs. Most have no preference when it comes to being matched with a family, and some take on several families at once. Newby-ginnings has families with up to 12 children, and Theresa likes to see if she can find something the sponsor and military family might have in common when matching them up. “I had a local family with a special needs child want to be matched up with another family with a special needs child. We made it happen, and they are still friends to this day,” said Theresa.
The only qualifiers for families to receive a sponsor are that they are a military family with at least one child under the age of 18 living in the home. Newby-ginnings is accepting sponsors through December 11. If sponsorships are filled up, there are several other ways community members are able to help. Newby-ginnings is taking new toy donations to fill up its Santa’s Workshop. The boardroom is transformed into a toy store where young children can come and pick out items they would like to gift their siblings and parents for Christmas. New in-box donations are accepted on-site through December 19.
As the cold weather moves in, Newby-ginnings is also in need of warm clothing in all sizes including coats, gloves, hats and scarves. Space heaters are also in high demand.
For Theresa and the more than 50 volunteers who align themselves with her mission, it’s just another way of honoring the memory of her son Nick and honoring the service and sacrifice of military members and families throughout the Northwest.
“I just want to express my gratitude to the overwhelming support of our military families in this community. We are just the conduit, and I can’t imagine Newby-ginnings would be so well-supported anywhere else in the country,” said Theresa.
If you would like to inquire about becoming a sponsor or would like to donate items to Newby-ginnings, they are open Monday through Wednesday from 9am to 5pm. Visit Newby-ginnings.org, find them on Facebook or stop by in person at 570 South Clearwater Loop, Unit A, in Post Falls.