South Colonie parent creates ripple effect of giving 

families gather together after volunteering their time in 2012
Families gather together during the first Morning of Kindness in December 2012. {Colonie families include: The Sillings, The Seavers, The Elks, The Terrys, The Bosslemans and the Dwires}

In 2012, as families were preparing for the upcoming holiday season, one South Colonie parent was looking for a way to keep her elementary-age children busy during the day on Christmas Eve.

Through her work at a local nonprofit,  Kelly Mateja had first-hand knowledge about the staggering needs that were present in the local community.  But through her role as a mother, she also understood how important it was to involve children in community service at a young age.

“I messaged a few of my friends and asked them if they wanted to get together to volunteer in the community,”  Mateja said. “We had young kids, school was out, and we were all looking for a way to keep our children busy. Nine of my friends responded that year and on Christmas Eve day we set out to support several local organizations. That was the start of Morning of Kindness.”

That year Mateja, her children, and nine other families visited the Mohawk Hudson Humane Society to donate pet food and supplies, they taped quarters to vending machines at Albany Medical Center, and they visited residents of Albany County Nursing Home.

What started out as ten families, has since grown to nearly 2,000 volunteers who participate in Morning of Kindness annually.  “We do coat drives,  create care packages, drop off donations, participate in Meals on Wheels, you name it,” Mateja said.

Offering hope during the pandemic

family posing for a picture wearing holiday hats
Roessleville Elementary Teacher Mary Ellen Myer and her family pose for a photo during Morning of Kindness.

While the restrictions have set limits to the variety of volunteer opportunities found through Morning of Kindness this year, Mateja and her army of volunteers are still ensuring that these vital programs continue to receive support this holiday season.

“The pandemic has created an even greater need for services,” Mateja said. “While things may look a little different this year we have every intention of continuing our program and supporting these organizations that mean so much to our communities.”

Morning of Kindness is offering volunteer opportunities and a variety of ways to support organizations within the community during a Month of Kindness throughout December.  Opportunities to donate or volunteer can be found on their website at