Thursday, December 20, 2012

Lessons in Giving

Tonight my hubby went with a friend to take food & toys to some people who are struggling, like a lot of people, this Christmas.

It reminded me of something I saw my Dad do when I was little.
My grandmother worked at a toy factory. She often brought home "seconds" for us. Toys with little flaws that kids wouldn't notice, but they didn't pass quality control at the factory. Dad had a friend who was struggling that year. I overheard him say, "Mom, can you gather up some toys at the factory that I can take out to him for his kids?" Our family wasn't well off either, but I remember seeing him leaving the house, laden with toys and food for that family's Christmas.
For over 20 years, my church has helped people at the holiday, too. My husband coordinates this annual major outreach and gives his heart & soul to it. As you can imagine, I admire him for it because of the example my father set.
People get to spend about 45 - 60 minutes of peace, away from their worries, listening to Christmas music, hearing a message of hope, being personally prayed for. Some years, the church has given big boxes of food & a ham or turkey.
The last few years, we've done a little smaller box of food, but added toys. People really, really want to give their children something fun, bright & colorful on Christmas morning, so the toy outreach is a big success. People love to buy toys to give away, too, and our congregation really gets behind this!
Our volunteers sort the hundreds of toys and display them by age groups for boys & girls. The parents can leisurely "shop" while their kids are being entertained in the children's building. A local outreach minister taught my husband that it's important for parents to choose the toys and it's important for the children to realize their parents, not some agency, provided for them.  It doesn't matter that they didn't purchase the gift with their own money. They purchased it with their care and time. It still comes from their heart.
Parents make deep impressions on their children, usually when they don't even know the kid are watching. My Dad went to heaven just a few days ago. He's there now with Mom. They both loved Christmastime! I miss them terribly but am so grateful for the memories and lessons they gave me.

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