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Oklahoma volunteers and donors keep Hope Chest going

Volunteers and donors say Hope Chest OKC treats donation recipients with humanity.
Oklahoman Published: March 1, 2014

They call her the “child whisperer.”

Skyler Harris, 15, became instant friends with Ryleigh Genn, 4, when she handed the little girl her new pillow covered with a Tinkerbell-themed pillowcase.

And Ryleigh’s brother, Xander, 2, followed the teen around as she helped put sheets and a blanket on his new toddler bed.

Harris said making friends with the children who are blessed with beds and new bedding is one of the reasons she likes volunteering for Hope Chest OKC.

The adult volunteers who recently watched her interact with the young recipients of Hope Chest said Harris quickly becomes best buddies with many of the children whose homes the ministry blesses during its Saturday deliveries.

Dena Nason, the ministry’s executive director, said friendly, compassionate volunteers like Harris help Hope Chest OKC share hope and a good night’s rest — one bed at a time.

To do this, the ministry relies heavily on volunteers like the teen, she said, adding that donations from individuals, businesses and churches also are vital to the nonprofit.

Nason, a member of Northwest Oklahoma City, works a full-time job in addition to leading the Hope Chest ministry. She said aid from a dependable group of volunteers, plus community donations, helped the ministry provide 200 beds to more than 80 families in 2013. She said the nonprofit ministry helps about four to six families each month and more volunteers are always welcome.

Nason’s assistant director, April Styers, said she and her husband, Steve, were looking for a ministry organization that would allow them to help on weekends and bring their children along. Nason, who attends Oklahoma City Community Church, said Hope Chest seemed perfect for their family. She said her daughter Maddie, 15, and Maddie’s best friend, Harris, in particular, love to come along and help.

Styers said she always invites people to help volunteer for Hope Chest and several volunteers who recently aided the Candace Genn and Alvin Reed families were people she recruited from her church.

One of those new “recruits,” Jamie Stolp, of Oklahoma City, helped carry mattresses and box frames and helped set up several beds for the Genns.

“April said it’s amazing delivering to these families and we wanted to help,” Stolp said.

Drew Mackey, of Oklahoma City, another volunteer from Styers’ church, said he, too, decided to come see what Hope Chest was all about.

“She was talking about it and it sounded wonderful,” Mackey said. “I’m glad I could help out.”

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