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After a local mom loses her son to cancer, she starts a project to help others

Denise passes her masks out to the public.
Posted at 8:59 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 20:59:24-05

LANSING, Mich. — It’s a heartbreak that no parent should ever have to go through, the loss of a child.

This week’s good neighbor lost her son to cancer, but it’s what she did after her world came crumbling down that makes her this week’s good neighbor.

As the pandemic continues, Dewitt resident Denise Greenhoe is on a mission to give away face masks. They aren’t just average masks; they are homemade and ones she sewed herself. She says they are a hit!

“People come before I can even get the bags open, and it never stops until everything is gone," said Greenhoe.

“That is really nice of her," said Lansing resident Carmyn Ayers. "I know it probably takes her all day to make these. They are so beautiful.”

Denise's son, Ryan. Photo taken at the hospital.
Denise's son, Ryan. Photo taken at the hospital.

Denise started making face masks when her son Ryan was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. She continued while he was going through all the treatment options. Sadly, Ryan passed away in June.

Denise says when Ryan died it nearly destroyed her.

“The making of the masks was my only distraction, and it has also literally been the only reason I've gotten out of bed in the morning for months now," Denise said. "Because what I would like to do is pull the covers over my head and say, just leave me alone.”

Occasionally, Denise parks herself outside the Kroger on Lansing’s south side to hand out her masks and give back whatever she can.

Denise says all the people she gives face masks to are grateful, but it was a homeless man who told her he didn’t have a pillow, that really touched her heart – and spurred her to do even more.

A child waits to pick out one of Denise's masks.
A child waits to pick out one of Denise's masks.

“When I stop and think that people don't even have a pillow which is one of life's most necessities, how is that possible? And what can I do to change that?, said Denise.

So she started buying pillows and blankets and even gloves to give out. She uses her own money to buy all the supplies. Denise says the thank you's she receives warms her heart the most, especially the hugs from kids.

Eight-year-old Rain Hinton and her two-year-old sister Hope received pillows, blankets, masks and gloves from Denise. Rain says she is thankful.

“I got a pillow and a pink blanket, Rain said. "My sister, Hope, got a pillow as well as a pink blanket like mine. I want to say thank you. It’s amazing!

Lansing resident Deborah Becker agrees. Deborah says Denise restores her faith in humanity.

Denise sets up her booth in front of Kroger
Denise sets up her booth in front of Kroger

“This right here, this shows you that there is still hope, Becker said. "There is still hope, especially at the holidays. She makes the feeling of Christmas come alive!”

Denise says when her son Ryan was alive, he knew about her giving away the masks and he was proud of her.

“I used to drive home, and the minute I got in my car, I would text Ryan, who would be in his chemo chair," Denise said. "I'd say I gave out 100 masks today! And he texts back good job, Mom; I'm proud of you. So, for my son to be proud of me, what more can you ask for?”

Denise hopes to continue giving out facemasks, gloves and pillows as long as she can. Since she uses her own money to buy all the supplies, friends helped her set up aGo Fund Me Accountto help with the expenses.

Denise Greenhoe, we want to say thank you for making the world a little better one face mask, blanket and pillow at a time.

You are this week’s Good Neighbor.

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Bob Hoffman

Bob Hoffman

9:44 PM, Nov 26, 2018

Good Neighbors Host

Bob Hoffman

Good Neighbors
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