Gary Steven Project donation

Stacey Stevens (center) donated items to the Hocking County courts for those family and friends who must sit through a trial. From left: Gretchen Gregory; Vickie Noble; Hocking County Juvenile/Probate Judge Jonah Saving; Hocking County Municipal Court Judge Fred Moses; Stacey Stevens; Hocking County Common Pleas Court Judge John Wallace; Hocking County Prosecutor Benjamin Fickel; and Pat Saniga.

LOGAN — On Sept. 1, 2016, Stacey Stevens had something she loved passionately, senselessly taken away from her when her father was murdered in his own home.

But that is not the story that is being told here. Even though tragedy struck Stevens, it never stopped her from being generous to the people and places she cares about most.

On Friday, Stevens made a stop at the Hocking County Courthouse to drop off victim comfort bags for the each of the courts.

The bags came equipped with children’s books, coloring books, crayons, notepads, post-it notes, hand sanitizers, chargers, tissues and a few other small items.

“The nexus of this came from being in the murder trial in Hocking County and having to drive a distance and needing things, but not wanting to leave the court,” explained Stevens. “It is important for someone else to know that someone is here for them and someone cares about them.”

Some of the items were paid for through the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant and the rest were paid for through her non-profit, the Gary Stevens Project.

The Gary Stevens Project was founded in July 2018 to support victims of crime in the State of Ohio, to assist veterans who must spend time in VA facilities and to support local non-kill animal shelters in Central Ohio. The motto of the organization is ‘Because Kindness Matters.’

In May, Stevens received the Special Courage Award from the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center for her organizations work with crime victims.

Vickie Noble, Gary Stevens’ sister, added that these were all things that Gary was very passionate about. And if someone thinks that the organization should be more singularly focused, Stevens has a response for you.

“I have been told that I can’t do this many things and my comment to that has always been go ahead and tell a Marine’s daughter she can’t do something and I’ll make it happen,” remarked Stacey. “That is the attitude I am taking to approach this.”

These bags are just a starting point for her helping trial families. Stacey discussed wanting to create a mindfulness and breathing app that provides guided meditation for families before they have to go into court.

She broke down the three major kindness-themed initiatives she’s working on to honor the memory of her father, who was a very kind and giving person.

First, she explained that she is working closely with the Hocking County Prosecutor’s Office to provide tote bags full of various items for victims of crime to have and use while in the courthouse.

“When we were in court, there were a lot of things on a daily basis where I thought I wish I had that — notepads, pencils and post-it notes,” she stated.

Secondly, because her father utilized the Chillicothe VA Medical Center, she continually works with them to provide sickly veterans with gifts. She is currently working on making fidget blankets for their Alzheimer’s unit and is preparing to buy many of the patients Christmas gifts.

“In various wards at other hospitals, patients get their toiletries in plastic tubs. At the Chillicothe VA, several wards get ditty bags. We have sewn more than 175 ditty bags for veterans and several more sewing sessions are planned,” Stacey commented.

Supplies needed to make the bags include fabric such as cotton, flannel, corduroy, canvas and duck cloth; thread; and sewing machine needles.

Supplies to put in the ditty bags include shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, body powder, lotion, alcohol free mouthwash, plastic combs, small tissue packs, Sudoku books, word search books and crossword puzzle books.

Lastly, Stacey is very passionate about raising money for non-kill animal shelters. She was focused on the Hocking County Dog Shelter, but since it has closed, she would like to start helping the Humane Society. She added that there were recently some donations to her organization that she plans to donate to different shelters in the area.

“When my dad was murdered, they had to take his dogs off the property. My dad had four dogs that were cared for by the Hocking County Dog Warden. That was one of the few acts of kindness on a really horrible day,” she commented.

All of Stacey’s efforts are an attempt to keep her father’s name and spirit alive and to give his name the positive reputation that it deserves.

“I wish my dad were still here, but I am glad that we are able to do something in his name and people will hopefully start thinking of him in terms of his kindness rather than just the last murder victim,” she concluded.

Those who would like to donate items to the Gary Stevens Project can call 614-316-2241. More information about the organization can be found on the Gary Stevens Project Facebook page.

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John Stran is a reporter with The Logan Daily News

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