SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Many people spend the holidays giving back to their community. But as KELOLAND’s Renee Ortiz shows us, one woman is going above and beyond to help people on Christmas Eve.
The day before Christmas, many people are getting last minute gifts and gathering with family.
But for Olivia Anderson and several volunteers, they handed out boxes of food outside the Department of Social Services in Sioux Falls.
“I just decided to do this just to spread the word and put a smile on someone’s face like, I call it a box of love,” Olivia Anderson said.
Each box contains hot cocoa, cookies, homemade fried chicken, rice and rolls — all made by Olivia.
She came up with the “Let the light shine” event, during one of the darkest moments in her life.
Olivia, a single mom of three, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020. Which she overcame in the following months.
In June of this year she went on a mission trip to Africa, cooking meals, handing out donations and providing support for women and children. What happened next, was unthinkable.
“I got in Africa on the first of June and I got back to the US on the 21st, and a week later, I got sick and after that I was diagnosed with a brain cancer.”
Olivia is battling stage four brain cancer. Just when things seemed at their worst, a light began to shine.
“In the beginning when I came up with the idea, something kept saying ‘let the light shine’, and I asked ‘what light?’ I mean everything was so dark around me and I don’t see a light.”
With the help of her church, Olivia was able to create the “Let the Light Shine” event for the community.
“We also just love meeting people in this community, there’s so many wonderful beautiful people that we’ve met today,” Dave Sinkgraven, a volunteer, said.
“We’re just thankful for her and all of the big hearted giving she always does, it was really important to me to help her make this happen,” Abbey Bisshop, a volunteer, said.
To Olivia, this event means so much more.
“I feel like if I gave and I go out there and give my services and my time, I heal faster mentally so it’s for my healing and to put a smile on someone’s face,” Anderson said.
The group made more than 150 meals, any that were not picked up were donated to the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House.