Playing Santa for a Good Cause
People throughout the community delivered gifts to families in need so that they could celebrate Christmas.
I can safely say that this will be the last article about holiday giving this year. My intention these past few weeks has been to touch on a variety of opportunities to not only give in unique ways but to help others in the process.
For this last column of 2010, I want to share the experiences of several volunteers in our community who sponsored families through A Wider Circle by purchasing and delivering Christmas gifts.
All of the recipients of the holiday gifts were clients of A Wider Circle, an organization that works to end the cycle of poverty in our community. The recipients live in Montgomery County and in parts of Washington, D.C. Their circumstances vary, but the bottom line is that through the generosity of A Wider Circle's volunteers, these families are able to celebrate Christmas with gifts for children and adults, as well as gift cards with which to purchase a meal for their table — just like everyone else around them. Without this support, they would have faced an empty day.
One of the sponsors brought his two children to make the delivery, who happened to be the same ages as the recipient's children. Although the recipients only spoke Spanish, there was an instant connection between the children, all of them between the ages of 4 and 6. One of the boys immediately ripped open a package with uncontainable excitement. The other discovered a matchbox car on the outside of one of his gifts and smiled and waved at the sponsor and his boys. The sponsors' children, who had decorated the packages, clearly understood that they had given these boys a cherished gift.
Another sponsor, whose toddler son is too young to understand the message, is planning to continue the tradition of giving to others in need as she feels strongly that "it is important for a child to experience giving during Christmas."
A delivery was made to a grandmother and her grandson and as the volunteer watched them place the gifts under their tree together, she "saw their eyes communicating that now they would have a holiday with gifts, whereas they probably wouldn't have had them otherwise. There was a tremendous feeling of warmth between the two of them, which I was privileged to observe."
My own experience as "Santa" was equally touching. I had the opportunity to meet a mother raising three sons in Gaithersburg, who couldn't have been more grateful for the warm clothing and gift cards her family received. In addition, A Wider Circle was able to introduce her to an organization that is helping her find a job, for which she was most grateful.
Last Thursday, my friend and I visited four single moms in Northeast and Southeast, D.C. We hugged the mothers and shared their tears as they expressed their gratefulness to the strangers who made Christmas possible for them this year. At one apartment, we received handwritten thank-you notes from the five girls in the family, ages 4 to 15. They didn't know what we were bringing, only that they would have gifts to open on Christmas Day.
Although I don't celebrate Christmas, I believe that the effort of giving something to others that they can't give to themselves is a value that transcends religious beliefs. It's a privilege to have the opportunity to brighten the lives of even a few families in our area at this important time of year.
For anyone who would like to be involved in A Wider Circle's holiday giving program next year, feel free to contact me by clicking "e-mail author" above. Until next week, have a happy and safe New Year's celebration.