Charity comes in many forms. A rich man can donate large sums of wealth, a poor man can give what little he has, and both acts will be described as charity. Eileen Elias Freeman wrote, “It isn’t the size of the gift that matters, but the size of the heart that gives it.”

True charity is indistinguishable from love.

“I think the most important thing we can do is show love to one another,” says Melissa Combs, a four-year resident of the Great Falls Housing Authority.

Colloquially known as “Parkdale” by long-term residents, the Housing Authority is designed to provide safe and affordable housing to lower income renters. For these members of the Great Falls community, holiday celebrations can be minimal.

“I wanted to do something to make more of an impact while I’m here,” says Combs.

In 2018, she baked up a plan to show her neighbors love with a charity she calls Christmas Bread for Parkdale.

“I wanted to make bread for my neighborhood, and people jumped in to help,” she explains. “We had a number of volunteers who baked bread, made cards, and a friend helped me deliver.”

On Christmas Eve, Combs went door to door with 65 loaves of bread. This year, with additional support, she hopes to deliver even more.

“What she’s doing is a huge undertaking. If we can help, we’d love to,” says Wende Curry, Preschool Director of the Ursuline Centre.

In 2019, Ursuline Centre preschoolers are among those making homemade cards in support of Combs’ charity.

Christmas Bread for Parkdale is only in its second year, and already there’s a vast network of volunteers. Combs is deeply encouraged by the support. The donations of time and resources have made Christmas a little better for people in her community.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” she says of her grassroots charity. “Something as simple as giving a loaf of bread and saying ‘I’m thinking about you on Christmas’ is spreading a lot of love.”

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