A week ago I posted about what my family was going to do for Christmas. If you missed that post, you should check it out before you read this one. I promised to follow up after Christmas, but due to some technical issues on my side of things, I wasn’t able to follow up until now.
So here’s what happened: My original idea of helping one family with Christmas turned into helping three difference families. These are their stories:
The first family we were able to help checked into the Roanoke Rescue Mission the week of Christmas. A single mom and two young kids. The Rescue Mission does their best to help families that spend Christmas in their facilities, but they’re only able to do so much with the limited resources they have. They’ll work with the families to get a few things from the Rescue Mission thrift store, but those are rarely new items. Since all gifts are delivered to the families’ rooms on Christmas Eve by “elves”, all donations are anonymous, but are given to the family you “adopt”. My mom went shopping on Christmas Eve and picked up a few new clothing items and some toys for these two kids, had them wrapped up, and dropped them off at the Rescue Mission. We’ll probably never meet this family, and even if we do, we wouldn’t know it. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that on Christmas morning, a day of hope and joy, at least two kids spending Christmas at the Rescue Mission got a few new items to call “mine”.
Finding a family that we could briefly visit with on Christmas is actually a pretty difficult task on Christmas Eve in Roanoke, VA. But my parents pulled it off. My dad is friends with a guy who runs an inner city ministry called Straight Street. Straight Street started out as a youth center years ago. Now they’ve branched into a community outreach center, helping kids, teens, single moms, and others in need. While this guy was helping track someone down on his end, my mom was still talking to her contact at the Rescue Mission to see if she could find someone.
The person we were finally able to contact through Straight Street was a 15 year old girl with a baby only a few months old. She lives in a town home in a city project housing development with her dad, aunts and cousins. She recently moved here from somewhere in Africa shortly after her dad did (we think). We delivered some clothes and diapers for her baby and some new clothes for her. We don’t know much about her or her story, but I do know that we had a small impact on her life on Christmas day.
The third family is a single mom and her three kids. Her oldest is her 12-year-old son. This family recently moved out of the Rescue Mission and into a two-bedroom apartment with another single mom and her two young daughters. We brought them a couple boxes of groceries, and some new clothes and toys for her three kids (two sons and a daughter). Her daughter (the youngest) was sick and upstairs in bed. The mom brought her down after we got there so she could open her gifts. Getting to watch the three kids open up gifts when there weren’t going to be any was incredible.
There’s another story beyond all three of these stories that meant more to me than any of these. My mom told the story to someone we ran into at the grocery store about the cashier at Target. When my mom was checking out, the lady said “so you’re one of those last-minute Christmas shoppers?” My mom said “no” and explained what she was shopping for.
After she finished telling the lady what she was shopping for, the cashier went on to tell my mom that she used to live at the Rescue Mission but got kicked out after she got into drugs. She ended up in jail for a while and after she got out she went back to the Rescue Mission for a while. She told my mom that for years, people like my family, people at the Rescue Mission, her parole officer, her social worker, and others all helped provide for her at Christmas. They would bring small gifts and send personal cards that helped make Christmas a better time of year.
She thanked my mom for what we were doing and told her just how much something like this actually means to families in need. She’s working at Target while she saves up enough money to go to school to become a paralegal so that she can go to work helping people who are like she used to be. Best of luck to you, Target cashier.