Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thank you for your generosity. You know who you are.

This was a most rewarding Christmas. I want to share a little of the generosity I was witness to this year. As you know I serve our schools as the outreach worker for children and families from k-6th grade. During the Christmas season I tend to spend a lot of my time helping families who are experiencing financial difficulties, and there are many, find ways to fulfill their children's Christmas wishes. This year the local Toys for Tots program served over 1,400 families in southern York County. It was fun to bring a car full of Moms to their pick up appointment and see how happy they were coming back to the car with arm loads of toys for their children. This year our church was the distribution center for Toys for Tots and they did a wonderful job of welcoming these families and making the experience a joyful one.

Our family received a very generous surprise from a relative and her family who have enjoyed reading this blog and wanted to contribute to the work we are doing here. The gift card they sent came in so handy when, at the last minute, I got word that one of the families I work with had not been able to get anything for their children. I am particularly fond of one of these children, an 8-year-old boy, who loves GI Joe and Techdecks. His sister, 14-years-old, needed some teen girlie things, and one of the teens that I work with told me she just wanted a hair straightener as hers has broken. Her family also needed food. So, armed with my gift card, I was able to shop like Santa and deliver all of those gifts. What fun! Thank you so much to my cousin and her family for helping me spread Christmas around to some wonderful kids. I wish I could have shared some of the hugs I received. I still have one gift card and I am saving that one for an emergency. I'm sure it won't be with me for long.

The Bathalon Barkers on Katie and Keith's Adoption Day

One of my favorite "You made my Christmas" moments this year was when one of the families I have worked with the longest called me to tell me how they were doing. This family has come such a long way in the three years I have known them. The mother mentioned that she was trying to come up with enough money to give her two children their wish for Christmas. I usually have no problem finding toys, clothes and food for families in need, but that wasn't what her children were asking for. What they wanted for Christmas was to be adopted by their mother's husband who had raised them since they were very young. They loved this man and all they wanted for Christmas was to be adopted. Mom had been able to have half of the filing fee waived but she still needed to come up with $180 for the court fees involved with an adoption.
    My first response to her request was admittedly a defeatist one. I was about to wish her well and let it go, but I knew how much the kids wanted this. And I certainly knew how important our family's adoption experience was. I had an idea that I wasn't the only one who would know how important it was and I reached out to a woman who knew one of the kids through a supper club program that her church put on for local children the year before. I let her know of the children's desire to be adopted and hoped she might like to chip in to make it happen for the child she knew. She didn't hesitate to say that her church would be happy to sponsor both children to be adopted. I think I danced when I heard this.

This was the first year that we gave a Christmas Jar to a family that we have known for a long time. Times have been hard for this family, especially recently. My daughter had so much fun decorating our jar full of change, collected over the year, and then placing it along with a copy of the book, Christmas Jars, on the front step of the family's home and then lighting a candle so they would discover it there. She then knocked on the door and ran away, right past my car and, up the road in order not to be discovered. We watched as someone came outside and found what we left for them. It was so much fun to share this project with her. I'm sure the money helped this family out, but I have no doubt that the two of us got more out of doing it for them. We call Katie "007" now.

I am so incredibly fortunate to have opportunities to witness many Christmas miracles through my work. From the school secretary who asked me for five families that needed a Christmas tree that she and her husband could bring one to, to the youth groups that asked to adopt a family for Christmas and provide them with food and gifts for each member, to the church that sponsored a family who was homeless with, not only food and gifts for Christmas, but has continued to assist them in finding affordable housing that they have so generously paid to get them settled in to. The church has also committed to supporting them as they get back on their feet.

I think this may have been my best Christmas ever. Not because of the material gifts I received, but because of the generosity and compassion that I was so blessed to have been a part of.  Thanks to all of you who have  helped others this season and all year long. You may never know how much it is appreciated. But I can tell you that from my experience, it truly is.

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