by Sheila Noblitt, HSP staff
Last night when the staff and volunteers left the Humanitarian Service Project center, we hoped we had helped as many last minute families in need as possible. After putting out the message to social service agencies, township offices, a local homeless shelter, and a community crisis center, families called us, and we were able to put together packages of new Christmas gifts for their children.
Earlier in the day, Rita picked up gifts for six families staying at the shelter. Other families with transportation fought nasty winter weather to make it to us in time. One mom said, “I hope I can make it. My car’s tires are bald and I’m afraid to drive.” She did make it in time. We witnessed many moms fighting back tears while others just let them flow. Another mom said, “When a neighbor realized we didn’t have anything, he brought over a tree. Now we have gifts to put under it.” We heard our share of sad stories like the mom who fled domestic abuse and was left with nothing for her children.
However, despite their individual situations, the families we saw shared one thing and that was thankful hearts—that someone could help them in their hour of need. Their children would at least have gifts to open on Christmas when other more fortunate children were opening presents. They would have a Christmas after all. They knew someone cared.
We don’t expect families to express gratitude—can you imagine how hard it must be to have to ask for help—but when it comes our way, we feel proud to share it—like this voice message we found on our phone when we returned to work last Monday after Saturday’s food and gift Christmas Offering distribution:
“This is Dana. We just picked up. You guys are amazing! It was above and beyond. You guys are enough to make a mother cry. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for the generosity. Thank you for listening to what the kids wanted. Thank you for being so efficient. Thank you for the people loading our car. Our Christmas is way different because of you.”
This last week we helped more than 200 additional families from our waiting list over and above those already in our programs. We were too tired to tally the exact number, but we figure well over 1,000 children have something to look forward to this Christmas.
We are thankful for the outpouring of support from the community for HSP’s mission to help needy seniors and children. Thankful for all of those who donated new toys and gifts, for those who sponsored families and made financial contributions, for those who delivered gifts and meals to our seniors, for those who came into the center to volunteer, for our drivers who drove all over Chicagoland picking up donations, for the good will we are so fortunate to witness. All of us at HSP are proud to continue the tradition of the Christmas Offering which Karole and Floyd Kettering started 31 Christmases ago.
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!