The year was 2006 and I found myself absorbed by the same busy, near-manic hysteria that most of the country faces during the holiday season. Along with our normal responsibilities surrounding career and family, each year we’re suddenly faced with tasks such as decorating, arranging family get-togethers, gift-buying (not to mention wrapping), all while facing the throngs of shoppers determined to find the perfect gift for each person on their list. In 2006, however, there was one difference that I can recall quite vividly; I was asking God for a calling. Without children of my own I felt something missing from my life. Even the holidays were not distraction enough to keep me from praying for an answer.
Days prior to Christmas, I received a phone call from a United Way representative. There was a list of more than 160 children whose families were incapable of providing their children gifts for Christmas. In September and October when community organizations and ministries accept applications for holiday assistance, things hadn’t appeared quite so bleak for most of these families. Unfortunately, a sudden surge of layoffs and reduced hours had changed their positions and these families were in desperate need of help. The situation was described as hopeless. I knew then that my prayers had been answered.
I wasted no time in rallying support from the company I work for and from fellow members of the community. Due to tremendous contributions and volunteerism we had made enough money to provide at least one outfit and one toy for each child; a feat that had somehow overcome insurmountable odds. Over the course of a few days we had gifts purchased, wrapped and awaiting families that had beforehand held out no hope of providing their children gifts for Christmas.
Knowing that the community would need assistance the following year, I was asked to chair the Christmas Cash for Kids event annually. As the need for assistance has risen each year, the community has responded, rising to the challenge. Each year I find myself overwhelmed by the community’s reaction to this need, and each year I find myself more and more proud to be a member of it.
By partnering with local broadcasting we can effectively communicate these families’ needs. We’ve implemented an “Every Penny Counts” campaign to involve local schools and businesses. And by contributing even the slightest bit, people can once again remember to embrace the Christmas spirit.
Almost every adult has memories surrounding Christmas morning. Christmas Cash for Kids is a way to help future generations look back and remember how much of a difference kindness and generosity of spirit can positively impact hundreds of lives.
Rebecca Linton is Chair of the annual Christmas Cash for Kids event.