Monday, December 22, 2008

Can’t Put A Bow on This

I tell all of the coordinators and social workers that we work with on our annual charity program that we don’t do the program for the feedback, for the heartwarming stories. And that’s true – to a point. I really don’t want to exploit the needy. That’s not what it’s all about.

As human beings though we can’t help ourselves: We want to be the fly on that wall. What happened to that carload of gifts and other items that went to that family/those senior citizens? We know we wonder. Did we really brighten someone else's holiday?

And sometimes we find out.

Sometimes, it’s an email. Sometimes, it’s a phone call. Sometimes – but less often – it’s a card or note from the recipient themselves. This is what I've learned today via phone and email:
  • A single dad and his two kids reluctantly put up a Christmas tree last week. They weren’t going to because dad didn’t want to create the expectation “that there would be anything to go under it.” They got a pleasant surprise on Friday when there was more to go under it than would fit.
  • Today, an elderly gentleman got emotional when several boxes and other items arrived with his noon meal. “I would give 10,000 kisses to them and I need to say many prayers for them in thanks,” he said of his benefactors. On Christmas Day, the ones that will truly be alone for the holiday will get a similar delivery with their meal.
  • Over the weekend, a social worker gave this account of her visit with a terminally ill grandmother and some of the grandchildren she is raising. “When I walked in with the first box of gifts, Grandma was overwhelmed and so appreciative and grateful for the one box. When I told her that there were many more to come she burst into tears. As I started bringing in all the boxes and bags of gifts, Grandma was unloading them under the tree and hanging up the stockings around the living room just in awe. A boy (7yrs.) was sitting in front of the tree staring at all the presents and I looked over at him and he had tears in his eyes as well. He looked at me and said that he must have been a really good boy this year to get all of these gifts and also said that he was not expecting there to be anything under the tree but now he really believes there is a Santa.”

    Yeah, we don’t always find out what happens with the families or seniors who come into our lives each holiday season. But it’s awfully nice when we do.