Hometown Holiday Helpers: Katie
ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Meet Katie Dinger, a mother, grandmother and great grandmother – a woman who has spent her life thinking of and serving others.
“I’m sure there are other people who need help worse than I do,” she says.
If you’re from Wytheville, you’ve likely seen, heard or even been a recipient of the work Katie has done and you may have never known. She spent the last 31 years as a mail carrier until recent health issues forced her to retire in June of this year, but through it all, she continued to volunteer.
“Thanks by Giving is my passion, just talking about it gives me chills because it’s a God thing. It comes together every year like clockwork.”
‘Thanks by Giving’ is a mission to reach the people of Wythe County by feeding those in need on Thanksgiving Day; they fed over 800 this year alone.
Katie was called to lead after it was in danger of stopping a few years ago.
“I was very upset about that. James Porter, who is the chef at the Moose Lodge, said if I took it over and did the legwork, he would do the cooking, so I said okay.”
It wasn’t always easy. In 2018, Katie had a rough year and wasn’t able to fundraise. She was afraid Thanks by Giving wouldn’t happen, but with help from her church, Sunny Hills, everything came together, and they were only $12 short.
“It was our miracle year,” she said.
That’s not all she’s involved in; she leads the Sunny Hills relay-for-life team, which holds a special meaning for Katie.
“My father died from cancer when I was 14. The type of cancer he had in 1974, today they would most likely be able to stop it.”
They say things come in threes and that can ring true with service, because Katie is also an active member for the Wytheville Woman’s Club. That’s when she caught the eye of Amy DeWilde, the person who nominated Kate for Hometown Holiday Helpers.
“She is an amazing person,” DeWilde said. “She is always thinking of ideas and projects to give back to our community.”
“I learned it from my mother,” said Katie. “She was the mom in the neighborhood who fed all the kids.”
Her mother taught her a life full of lessons she even passed onto her own children, but sadly, Katie’s mother died earlier this month after a battle with coronavirus at a nursing home at age 92.
“It was just very hard not being able to be there. I haven’t actually touched her since March. I kept praying that I wouldn’t be one of those people that would happen to that she would die alone like that, but she’s gone onto a better place.”
But her spirit lives on through Katie and beyond.
“I just hope, well, I know my children are the same way, because they’ve all helped with different charities I’m involved in.”
Katie Dinger is a woman who has spent her life in the service – a woman who has been on the go for decades – and most recently a woman who is facing heartache with the loss of her mother, but in the face of adversity she is keeping a smile on her face knowing her dedication to others makes the holiday season a little bit brighter.
“I enjoy helping other people and I feel like it’s what I’ve been called to do. I think we’ve all been called to do it.”
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