Meet the woman behind the Christmas bench at Leslie Groves Park

Last week, a Christmas bench popped up at Leslie Groves Park. Attached to the bench are goodie bags.

KAPP-KVEW spoke exclusively to the woman behind the Christmas cheer. Lanie Marshall has been decorating the bench for a few years to honor her late brother.

“My brother Victor was the second in the family,” Marshall said. “He loved Christmas.”
In recent years, the bench donned different themes like the Richland High Bombers and Elf. Marshall never put the bags on the bench, but something changed for her this year.

“So I’m an Uber driver and I’ve been noticing a lot of homeless people,” she said. “I thought, well I’ll make these bags up, put them on there.”

Inside the bags are a hat, hand warmers, a granola bar and candy cane. She also put in scarves in some of them.

“I put them out last Tuesday and came by on Thursday, and they were all gone,” she explained. “I replenished them on Friday and when I came back today there was none left.”

Marshall said she likes coming back because it’s a time for her to reflect. On the bench is a metal plate dedicated to her brother with a phrase.

“Treasure your family and friends. They are what make your life rich,” it read. “I believe that he had sent that in an e-mail to my sister, Mary, a few years back.”

The bench faces the Columbia River, which Marshall says is a great view for people and the bags.

“I just wanted to do it to start with and obviously there’s a need for it so kind of just keep it going,” Marshall explained.

Each bag costs about $3 and Marshall has already put 60 together. On Monday, she said there were only as few left at the bench.

Marshall said she’s not sure how much longer she’ll keep the bags up, but wants to do this every year.
For her, she wants to send one message – be kind to others.

“I just hope that everyone just takes a little bit of time, and not only for the homeless, but when you walk through a door – turn around and wait for someone,” Marshall explained. “Just so many little things that you can do that I don’t see a lot of anymore.”

That kindness – something Victor would do as well.

“He’s always with us in spirit,” she said. “Love you and miss you.”