One of my favourite Christmas movies growing up was “One Magic Christmas.” There is a scene in it where the mother and her two children secretly drop brand new bicycles off at a house where two needy children live. They drove away happy and excited, knowing the joy they would bring to those kids.
That movie came out in 1985 (side note: how in the world has that much time passed?!), so it was almost 30 years ago that a seed was planted in my young mind that I’d love to do something like that some day.
This is the day.
The last few years, I’ve participated in various charitable endeavours with the kids such as Toy Mountain, the Food Bank and Operation Christmas Child. They are all fantastic organizations that do some really fabulous, much-needed work in our city and world.
I’ve wondered though, how much my own kids really understood. Age-appropriate developmental limitations and their sheltered world aside, do they really get how fortunate they are? Do they really understand that there is a real little boy or girl waiting on the other side of their Toy Mountain donation?
I wanted to do something that would do good for the people of our city, but would also involve my children on a level that they had not experienced before.
I believe that people are inherently good. They want to do good. They want to help. Sometimes, all they need is an opportunity to do so.
With the help of a social worker friend, I was put in touch with 13 families who could use a little extra help this holiday season, and I paired them with 13 other families, who, regardless of how much or little that they had to share, volunteered to sponsor a family and essentially “provide Christmas.”
I called the deserving families, found out a little more about them and their needs, and (with permission) passed on that information to the lovely people who had volunteered to be their sponsor.
And the last piece of my vision? For the sponsors to deliver their packages to their sponsored family’s home, face to face. To create a human connection.
I didn’t know if that’s what people would want. Would the donors or receivers want to remain anonymous? Would the families want someone to knock on their doors? So I gave everyone, sponsors and families alike, two options. I could arrange anonymous delivery through the social worker, or the donors could bring the packages straight to the families doors. Every single family chose to have their donor come to their home. Every single one.
My hope is that the sponsors will get just as much, if not more, value out of this exercise than those who are at the receiving end. I hope that connections will be made. That we will all see how much we have to be grateful for. And that we c an all know, for sure, that hope and love and kindness still abound.
And guess what you guys?! It’s happening.
Donors are reaching out beyond some groceries and gifts. They are using phrases like, “My heart is busting!” and “This made my Christmas!” They are taking names and resumes, arranging contacts for jobs. My heart is busting too.
Tomorrow my family will take our packages over to the home of another local family. My boys will hand over gifts they hand-picked for other children, and they will say, “Merry Christmas!’
And THAT is what Christmas is all about.