Theresa Schneider, of Williamsport, believes it only takes one person to make a difference.
As a founding member of the Giving Graces group, Schneider was inspired to start her giving circle group after hearing one of her friends tell a story about a woman in need.
"One member started telling the story of a college girlfriend, who sustained a head injury, was in the process of a divorce and was out of work, had an autistic son and could not get an apartment due to financial concerns," Schneider said. "As we talked about the book, 'Eat, Pray, Love,' and how the small girl with the tile inspired many people to give, we decided to help this girl get together a security deposit for her move."
Schneider said she and Janna Clark, Williamsport, and Lisa Perfidio, Philadelphia, brainstormed a way to raise $1,500 for the woman.
"She was our first recipient; that was back three years ago," Schneider said.
Schneider said the three women each contributed $500 in membership dues and last year met with a lawyer to get 501(c)3 status as a nonprofit and come up with a mission statement.
"We are still in the beginning phases," Schneider said.
This year, the group gave $750 to the ASPCA because each woman nominated three organizations they wanted to contribute to and they didn't have an individual recipient who was nominated.
Schneider said the group likes to support organizations that help women and pets, because of the members' interests.
This year, Schneider said the ASPCA funds also were helping Superstorm Sandy victims, so they felt like their money would have a two-fold effect of helping women and pets.
Schneider said the women vote in the spring and fall to decide which organizations they want to support, along with meeting a few times a year and keeping in touch via email and Skype.
"We're always looking for the names of women and organizations we can help," Schneider said.
She also is a member of the We Are Women Helping Others group in the Williamsport area. As a nurse, Schneider said helping others is in her blood. She encourages those who are thinking about helping others to just do it.
"We started it, we did it and it's that simple," she said. "And more importantly, we have fun."
For more information about joining the Giving Graces, email giving email@example.com or contact Schneider at 322-7133.