Peoria grandmother Pays it Forward year round to help families in need

(Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

A few years ago, Bonnie Manske created a Facebook page called "The Children's Giving Tree" as a way to help families and children in need, especially over the holidays.

"In the morning, when you're sitting there having your coffee and you look at your significant other and say, 'I wonder how many people are smiling right now,'" said Manske.

"Can you hear them? Those are kids opening presents you got for them."

The Peoria grandmother's mission to make a difference started with her adopting one family for the holidays, providing them food, clothing and presents.

This year, with the help of volunteers she recruited on Facebook, they adopted 64 families including, a number of seniors.

"The seniors, after working all their life, they're the most forgotten," said Manske. "There's not enough housing for them and when there is housing, their whole Social Security check goes for their rent -- there's nothing left."

Cindy Martinez has seen her friend's generosity first-hand and hopes what Manske is doing will inspire others to do the same.

"I hope people will see what one person can make a difference -- what one person can do," said Martinez. "It can change the world, it can change your neighborhood, change people around you."

Martinez wanted to give Manske a head start on her goal of helping 100 families next year, so she reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to Manske.

CBS 5 was there for the big surprise.

"On behalf of Channel 5, we want you to continue spreading the good things you do and helping people that you do," said Martinez. "On behalf of them, we want to give you $500 as a start for next year."

"Manske is already planning to use the money to open a food pantry for seniors.

"You know it's OK to be good to people," said Manske.

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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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