By Suzanne Le Mignot

CHICAGO (CBS) — There has been an outpouring of holiday cheer on social media during the pandemic.

We’ve seen several posts that have shown us people are making a big difference in the lives of many. CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot spoke to two women who are doing just that.

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They women both said this was their way of helping those in need during difficult times.

Bianca Megan Leach explained her unique way of spreading holiday cheer. The British International School of Chicago Lincoln Park kindergarten learning assistant put a post on the Lakeview Neighborhood News Facebook page a few days ago.

She asked people to fill a box with things for families, kids, or adults in need. One shoebox for a little girl had finger paint in it. Leach said another had “a really, really big gingerbread cookie that will bring joy to a lot of people, I think!”

“I’ve had a couple say they’d love to get involved – just let them know what they need to do,” Leach said.

Leach brought the holiday tradition from London, when about eight years ago, she became a member of the Saffa Moms in Great Britain Original Facebook page. The group started the box gift giving for those in need.

“It’s been a hard year for a lot of people, and I think if you can make a small difference, it really does go, like a really long way,” Leach said.

Leach’s acts of kindness don’t stop with box gift giving. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been surprising unsuspecting cashiers with gift cards at her local Target.

“The once-a-week ones are between $5 and $15 and when we can, we do bigger lots – like now at Christmas we’ll do $50 to $100 – to some of my, I don’t want to say favorites, but to the ladies and the men that really do make a difference in my life,” Leach said.

Another post on the Crystal Lake, Illinois Facebook page caught our eye, with more than 470 comments.

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“I know there’s a lot of people hurting right now, like financially, and a lot of businesses have closed down,” said mother of three Mercedes Evans.

Mother of three Mercedes Evans asked people – what was one thing they need? She then asked those who had something they didn’t want to connect with others in need to help them – for free.

“Food. People that need like work on their cars but can’t afford a mechanic,” Evans said. “I saw some guy that was a mechanic that offered to go and help that person for free.”

In another post, the Army veteran chose four families who didn’t have food for Thanksgiving. She delivered the groceries to them with her 9-year-old son, Alex.

The reaction from one young family member really touched her heart.

“We were leaving the stuff on the porch and the door opened,” Evans said.

Evans says a little boy came out of the house and gave her son Alex a long hug and told him, “Thank you.”

“Later that night, we talked and he said, ‘You know it seemed like, pretty much, like he might not have had a Thanksgiving meal without us,’” Evans said, “and he understood that as a 9-year-old boy, that we were helping – and that was awesome.”

Evans plans to carry out more acts of kindness through Christmas. Leach said she and her family will continue surprising unsuspecting cashiers at her local Target with gift cards ranging from 50 to $100 in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

You can reach Leach through email or Instagram

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Suzanne Le Mignot