One of the best parts of my job comes in the middle of the night. Yes, sometimes the worst parts of my job comes in the middle of the night, but this is Christmas day and with it comes so much joy. For months, literally starting in early October, individuals and businesses, churches and families, start purchasing items from our “Holiday Helper’s” list. There are no ipads or computers on the list, rather toys for the children and practical items for mom (new toasters, coffee pots, etc.) Then in early December, case managers interview all the clients to get their choices of what they want for Christmas. By mid-December, my office, the Volunteer Coordinator and the board room are filled to the top with wonderful gifts for our clients and the wrapping begins. Volunteer groups from churches and organizations like National Charity League come to the shelter to wrap gifts. Every family has a large bag with multiple gifts sitting in my office ready for Santa to make his delivery.
For me, the best part comes on Christmas morning. My alarm rings at 2:30 and this year Ashley Herridge, our Director of Client Services and I come to the shelter. With the help of our Resident Advocate who has worked all night, we slide each bag into place. The best part comes closer to 6 a.m. when the children start to wake up, like in any home. Each door opens and the bags are pulled into the client’s rooms. We hear joyful children’s cries as they find the gifts that Santa brought to each one.
What happens to the extra toys and gifts? All the toys are saved to be used as birthday gifts for the children at the shelter throughout the year. And any extra toaster, or coffee pot will go home with the next clients as they move into their own apartment. I get the pure joy of seeing it all happen. In the midst of all the struggle and heart break that so many of our clients experience each day, there is this day of joy and giving. Santa has no problem finding the shelter. Each child is special. Each mother remembered.
May this holiday season be a time of peace in all our homes. And may the New Year be a year where we move closer to eliminating domestic violence, so that we won’t need shelters anymore…..Peace to all!