Opinion

Desirée Leibl has many reasons for volunteering, but one of the biggest ones is to honour her maternal grandmother.

"My Nana taught me so much about being kind and generous and having a giving nature," Leibl says. "She taught me from a young age how you could do one small thing that could be something much bigger to someone else. A small ripple of kindness (can) turn into a tidal wave of difference in the world."

Leibl creates those ripples of kindness as a gift co-ordinator with You Can’t Spoil a Baby (YCSAB), an organization that collects and delivers gifts of gently used baby clothes and items to help Manitoba families in need.

The 33-year-old stay-at-home mom volunteers her time putting together gifts using donated items, communicating with gift applicants and contacting other volunteers to deliver gifts.

Her husband, Shimon, and their two sons, Xander, 5, and Sebastian, 2, often help.

This allows Leibl to teach her children about values that are important to her, like being compassionate, doing what’s right, taking action to create change and the importance of community.

It also allows her to introduce her sons to bigger concepts like privilege, injustice and reconciliation.

"YCSAB… is dedicated to being a part of the solution to systemic injustice that affects our lower-income and marginalized community members by doing our part to value them respectfully and redistribute resources in the ways that we are able to," Leibl says.

YCSAB has made and delivered more than 2,600 gifts since Pamela Delisle founded it in November 2011. The organization currently relies on about 100 volunteers.

"It’s so easy to fall in love with volunteering for You Can’t Spoil a Baby," says Diana Welligan, who first got involved in 2016. "It’s a really amazing organization to volunteer for."

Since January, the 34-year-old teacher has served as YCSAB’s volunteer co-ordinator.

Like Leibl, Welligan involves her children while volunteering.

"I want my children to recognize their privilege and use it to help others," she says. "They’ve helped me sort clothing, made sure toys are in working condition and made some deliveries with me, too."

The organization paused its operations for three months in the spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since reopening in June, volunteers have made and delivered 30 to 40 gifts each month, which is on par with any other year.

Leibl took the reopening as an opportunity to remember the son, Ariel Halo, she lost during pregnancy in late 2016.

Ariel’s due date was in July, so Leibl and her family made and delivered 15 gifts this past July to honour him.

"When we made the decision (to join YCSAB), part of the appeal was that this was an additional way we felt that we could spread light and warmth to those who needed it in Ariel’s name," Leibl says. "The actual process of organizing, prepping and building our gifts has (special) meaning to us which is that it feels like spending time with the baby we never got to meet."

Welligan is thankful for Leibl’s contributions.

"(Desirée) makes some of the most beautiful gifts I’ve ever seen. Her attention to detail is amazing," Welligan says. "I always look forward to seeing her gifts, and seeing how much love and care and thought she puts into them."

There are a number of ways that people can get involved with YCSAB.

The organization offers ongoing and one-time volunteer positions. Anyone interested can visit ycsab.org for details.

If you know a special volunteer, please contact aaron.epp@gmail.com.