Step Up' party at local mall benefits women, children

Spreading hope during hard times

For DeWitt resident Carol Goodfellow, wrapping gifts brings great satisfaction, especially when they're for people whom she's never met. On Dec. 11, volunteers gathered at Shoppingtown Mall for its "Step Out Step Up: It's a Wrap" holiday party. Its mission? To bring cheer to women who may be going through some tough times -- economically and otherwise -- this time of year.

"Being a woman, I feel there are women that live with such pain in their lives and we feel for them," said Goodfellow, who participated in this project last year as well. "If we can help out in any way, this would be a start."

Step Up Women's Network is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening community resources for women and girls. The gifts, provided by Shoppingtown and Great Northern malls, will go to Vera House, The Salvation Army, the Chadwick Residence and Person to Person, where they'll get distributed to women just in time to celebrate the holidays.

The malls, owned by Macerich, a developer of major retail properties, joined 64 of its sister shopping centers across the country to wrap more than 40,000 gifts in this single-day event.

"With women being the core customer, it seemed fitting to partner with a group that provides mentorship and development, health education and advocacy, and social networking opportunities for women and girls," said Nannette Carbone, marketing director for Shoppingtown Mall.

Goodfellow said volunteering for the cause has a trickle down effect: everyone starts to feel good and it gives you a sense of why you do it.

"I would like to meet the women," Goodfellow said. "I would love the opportunity to hand them their gift," which is a candle, often meant as a symbol of hope.

In May, Shoppingtown Mall held its first event with Step Up, working with three women's health organizations. They filled 300 canvas bags with donated product for local cancer patients.

"It's really nothing; an hour of your time," Goodfellow said. "You just have to do it once and you're hooked."

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