Grief Support Offered During Holidays Thanks to Cheer Box Volunteers

The very first shift of EveryStep Cheer Box gift wrapping for 2022 found Judy Leedy of West Des Moines hard at work, carefully wrapping each of the 12 specially chosen gifts that make up EveryStep’s Cheer Boxes. Clearly written instructions and friendly EveryStep staff ensure each Cheer Box is just as it should be, but Judy knows exactly what to do.

She’s been volunteering for EveryStep’s Cheer Box program for years. “I love this!” Judy says as she puts the final touch on another wrapped gift. She is one of hundreds of volunteers that will pack, wrap and deliver Cheer Boxes across Iowa again this year. The Cheer Box program is a long-standing tradition and one of many grief and loss support services offered through EveryStep’s Amanda the Panda program.

EveryStep Cheer Boxes are a holiday box of 12, family-friendly gifts delivered to families and individuals that have felt the pain of losing a loved one during the past year. During the holiday season, EveryStep wants to remind them that they have our support and care.

Judy’s commitment to EveryStep’s Cheer Box program is just one small part of her dedication to EveryStep and its programs. She has been an EveryStep volunteer for about seven years.

“It’s rewarding,” says Judy. “It keeps me busy. It keeps my hands going and me active, as well as helping somebody else.” For four years, Judy greeted families and visitors as a receptionist at EveryStep’s Kavanagh House hospice home in Des Moines and she continues to volunteer for Kavanagh House.

“I bake treats the first and fourth Fridays of the month for Kavanagh House and for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I’m going to take pie in,” says Judy, who also visits hospice patients in their homes. She spends time with them talking or playing card games, or simply just providing quiet company.

Judy says she understands that becoming a hospice volunteer might seem daunting to some. “The thought of somebody dying is scary, but you can really make it easier for them, just being there talking or visiting.”

View EveryStep Volunteer Opportunities

EveryStep has a variety of volunteer needs across Iowa. If you are interested in volunteering with EveryStep, visit

If you or someone you know is struggling to find the support they need, please contact EveryStep at 515-558-9946 or complete the commitment-free, confidential “Find Care” form on EveryStep’s website at EveryStep staff will follow up with a phone call to answer your questions and provide assistance.