Charitable Gift Giving

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The Perfect Get Well or Cheer Up Gift – Homemade Chicken Soup

August 27th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Cancer

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by representatives of a company called Spoonful of Comfort, an organization which delivers, of all things, Chicken Soup Gift Baskets. As happens from time to time, I asked if they could send me a sample of their product so I could share my experiences with all of you. Since I was on a trip to the West Coast last week, I asked them to wait until this week to send it. Little did I know how impactful this gift would be to me personally.

Most of you know that I write this blog mainly for fun; I have a “day job” which is what pays the mortgage and the bills. But right before my trip I was laid off from. I won’t go into the grisly details, but suffice it to say that it was very sudden and unexpected, and even a bit insulting given all I’d done for my company.

For the next few days after getting laid off, I was a bit of a Grumpy Gus. I was miserable, and I let the whole world know it. Poor Lisa, bless her heart, was and continues to be incredibly supportive. But there wasn’t much anyone could do or say to make me feel better.

A few days ago was my first full day back at home. As has been the case since the layoff, I woke up feeling very much sorry for myself. Suddenly, my doorbell rang. With all that’s happened in the last few weeks I’d actually forgotten the email exchange with Spoonful of Comfort, so I wasn’t sure who this mysterious box was from.

Home Delivered Chicken Soup

I opened it up to find this:

spoonful of comfort chicken soup in a box

It’s at this point where I discovered something I’d not seen for days…my smile. It was like Christmas morning anticipating what I’d find in the beautifully packed box.

First up was the beautiful paper design you see above (which conveniently can be reused as wrapping paper for a small gift), along with a handwritten card.

letter from chicken soup company

I’ve dealt with a lot of gift companies that sent cold impersonal packages that look like they came off an assembly line and were packed by a bunch of robots. Not so here. There was something really “personal” about this one, starting with the hand-written note, and continuing with the meticulous way that everything else in the box was selected and packed, as you’ll see in the next couple of pictures.

Next in the box was a bunch of fresh made-from-scratch rolls in a plastic bag.

fresh baked rolls to go with chicken soup

The chicken soup itself came in an insulated bag.

chicken soup in insulated bag

It was packed with a couple gel packs (which I like to reuse for trips where I take my cooler). Packed snugly and still cold to the touch after what must have been hours on the road was a delightfully huge jar of fresh chicken soup.

chicken soup in bubble wrap

Here’s what it looked like with the bubble wrap off.

jar of chicken soup

I admit, by now I was grinning from ear to ear, and I honestly forgot all about moping. The yellow card and yellow ribbon tied around the jar was so cheery and bright it made me feel better already. And inside the jar, I could already see how fresh the chicken soup was: this was no ordinary soup. I could see fresh carrots and huge chunks of chicken floating around. There’s a note that stresses to refrigerate it immediately and eat it within 2-3 days. The label listed the ingredients as:

Chicken stock, pulled all natural chicken, noodles, carrots, celery, onion, sage, parsley, sea salt  and down-home comfort.

In our world today where everything is packed with chemicals and preservatives, it’s nice to see an ingredient list where none of the ingredients is more than two syllables! (Being from New Jersey, I pronounce celery with two syllables :P)

There was one more surprise awaiting:

cookies with chicken soup

That’s right, a package of chewy, fresh-baked oatmeal raisin cookies! Once again, my smile was back, and it was back to stay.

The next day, Lisa was at my house, and she’d had a terrible time dealing with the traffic in New York. So she was not happy, and really tired. I decided it was the right time to heat up the chicken soup.

chicken soup over the stove

Bear in mind that I’m somewhat of a chicken soup snob. A few years ago, I learned how to make my own chicken soup, straight from the chicken. On more than a couple occasions, I’ve simmered soup stock on the stove from morning to evening just to get the right flavor. Since then, I won’t drink soup out of a can anymore, and even when I go to a restaurant I always judge soup against my own.

After letting Spoonful of Comfort’s soup simmer for a while, my kitchen had that familiar, comforting aroma of fresh chicken soup. I poured it out and served it.

chicken chunks in soup

After tasting one spoonful of the soup, my whole being shuddered with delight as the warmth of the soup filled me. The soup was tasty–the broth was infused with excellent flavor; the chunks of fresh chicken were generous and perfectly cooked; the carrots still had a fresh “snap” to them, unlike the mushy orange concoctions you find in canned soup; and the noodles were delightfully light and fresh. Lisa also told me she felt better after the soup. The jar of soup is huge, so there’s enough for at least two or three meals. I plan on saving the last bowl to help get through Hurricane Irene 🙂

I realized that the taste of the soup wasn’t the only reason I felt good. There’s just something about chicken soup, especially great chicken soup, that reaches right into your soul. The smells and taste brought me back to times in my childhood where I’d be sick and Mom would bring me a fresh bowl of soup and tell me everything was going to be all right. I remembered the times on snowy days where I’d flop down at the kitchen table and find a nice bowl of soup ready to warm me up.

I’ve often wondered why in the pantheon of soups chicken soup has such a high stature. After all, a good clam chowder or French onion soup certainly tastes just as good, doesn’t it? But it’s as I was drinking this soup from Spoonful of Comfort that I finally realized why this is. It’s because chicken soup so often has a secret ingredient that other soups don’t have–love. I firmly believe that chicken soup is good for you, but not because it can hydrate you or provide you nutrients (which it can, of course). I think more important than all of those things, over the years it’s become so effective because every sip reminds you of those who care for you and are pulling for you.

Honestly, I can’t think of a better gift to send to someone who’s not feeling very good, whether they’re ailing physically or feeling down emotionally. Getting flowers is nice, but flowers don’t last very long. Sending gift baskets is great, but a lot of times you’ll just get cheap junk food like processed cheese blocks or preservative-filled meat that’s not very healthy. Kudos to Spoonful of Comfort for coming up with a brilliant idea and for fulfilling it with such care and quality. Check out their site for other great ideas for people who need a lift, from college care packages (how I wish I had one of those when I was a scared freshman) to get well gifts.

My mom passed away of thyroid cancer back in 1992 when I was in my twenties. And so when I read the story of Spoonful of Comfort founder Marti Wymer, it hit close to home. Marti’s mother passed away of lung cancer only a few years ago, and Marti never got a chance to send her mom her soup to cheer her up. Today, a portion of all proceeds from sales of her soup goes to the American Cancer Society in memory of her mother Mona Bowes.

In starting her company, she made it her goal to help others with sick loved ones, and made a commitment to treat Spoonful of Comfort packages with as much care as if she were sending it to her own mother. In the package I received, I can attest that she did a great job. In a world where it seems that huge nameless, faceless gift companies focus on things like profit margins and operational efficiency and top-line revenues first and their own customers last, it’s refreshing to see a company focus on what really matters: making people smile. And that’s ultimately what will make them continue to enjoy success. If you know of someone who can use a pick-me-up, try it for yourself and see!


3 Comments so far ↓

  • Pablo Rosales

    This is so cool, it makes me so happy to read this. I hope you are doing good and hopefully you’ll find a new job soon. My best wishes to you, take care and keep writing, cause you are amazing. You made me feel part of the story so I guess that means that it was a great blog.

    Thanks once again,

  • gift giver

    I love seeing the creativity of how she packaged the soup to you. I am a “gift giver” who has found joy in the art of giving. This packaging gives me ideas on how to be more visually appealing in my gifts! My blog is : I don’t see a button to become a fan on your blog, but I will FB a like! Thanks again
    I am trying to learn how to take pictures for my blog like yours and I am just getting regular in writing my stories (Mon-Fri). My goal is to write a book on giving. Currently I have decided to give a gift a day for one year! I am waiting for God’s transformation! I am making soup on Mon.!

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