Christmas is Val’s holiday. I’ll admit it. I love Halloween. She loves Christmas. We’ll watch every movie on Hulu and Netflix, play the songs on the car radio, and decorate as much of the house as possible. The holiday itself carries fond memories for most of us and mixed feelings for others. This corridor of Thanksgiving and Christmas places us in direct contact with family members who we do not often see the other ten months of the year.
I can’t read the title of this post without hearing Andy Williams singing the first line of the song. Go ahead. Try it.
Today, on my lunch break, I visited Mercy Community Crisis Pregnancy Center for the first day of their Christmas events. They are an outreach ministry working with men, women, and families in crisis dealing with issues from unexpected pregnancy to abusive relationships and parenting classes. Mercy has served multiple generations of families across the city.
I spoke with Judy, a volunteer for the past fifteen years, after she had finished handing out the gift bags to the first wave of clients. Mercy hands out bags of donated toys separated into gender and age groups. Parents register for the gifts and complete parenting classes before they are eligible for the Christmas program.
Three hundred children would be served this month, three hundred children in the city getting some joy from the compassion of people willing to donate toys.
I asked Judy if she has seen an increased need as the economy fell apart in the city. She said that the severity of need has drastically increased. There are families that walk through Mercy’s door with nothing, no home, no clothes, no food. She told me she still finds herself crying with clients after all the years of volunteering.
As we hit the malls this month, real and virtual alike, it is important to have perspective. This is the time to give, to reach out to those in need. Find a charity near you and pay them a visit or send them an email. The person you reach should easily be able to give you a list of resources they lack at the moment.
The knowledge that you made a difference is a greater payoff than anything you’ll receive under the tree this year.
Soundtrack inspiration: One of my favorites from Lifehouse.