Friday, December 20, 2013

Holiday Giving

One of my favorite parts of the holiday season is giving. After Thanksgiving, the red kettles, toy drives, and giving trees are on display. I'm in my element. My most favorite is the giving tree. I have to put my blinders on. Everywhere I go those paper ornaments catch my eye trying to entice me. I have a really hard time ignoring them. I try my best to hold out on the mall and department store trees. The main reason is our church has their own giving trees. Those ornaments represent non-profits and in need families from our community. Nearly 20 groups put in their requests on the paper bulbs so our congregation can gift them. For the 3 weeks, ornaments are grabbed, shopped for, and returned to the church to help others. I just love it.

The big draw for us are the military families. We have a heart for military families. As many of you know from reading this blog, we have been in the military a very long time. In the early years, we budgeted a Lance Corporal salary to afford raising a baby. As my husband picked up rank things were financially easier. With the exception of one Christmas, the Marine Corps figured out a combat payment issue we hadn't caught for several months. We were forced to pay back the difference over the course of 9 months which equated to living on a Corporal's pay. Not the easiest thing to do with three kids. Christmas was not easy. I suppose the powers that be new of our situation and made a call or two. They suggested matching us up with one of the amazing non-profits in the area. Through that program a civilian family 'adopted' us. It still makes me a little sentimental to think of it. They didn't know our family or our situation but they had it in their heart to help a military family. I remember telling my husband I hoped we would be in a position one day to help other military families.

I suppose it has been nearly ten years since those words came from my mouth. God sure did listen and answer in a way I could never imagine. I returned to college and completed my degree. I got a job with a similar non-profit. Every day my job was to plan events and manage programs to gift enlisted military families all over Southern California. Every day I talked to corporations and PR people who wanted to give money and stuff to military families.  Famous last words? As if my 40 hour work week wasn't enough, we jumped right into gifting those paper ornaments on our church outreach trees. I have since moved on from the non-profit but have found another wonderful job. One which affords us the opportunity to continue to gift other military families.

This year we looked so forward to getting our ornaments. This past Sunday, while volunteering with the outreach project we found the bag filled with the military ornaments. There must have been over a 100 tags in the bag. I meant to take two ornaments but my teenager kept bringing me tags she could not resist. Teenagers are so dramatically convincing! We managed to narrow our tags to 5.  It's just so difficult to see all these needs which will go unmet. And the requests are so simple, like diapers and winter clothes and shoes. Others are $5 and $10 toys. How can your heart not want to gift them all?

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  1. So great you have such a giving heart. Very cool how you spent your Sunday too.

  2. This is so special, I always love picking out things when I know exactly what they want or even just the child's age. It really makes me feel happy to know the kids are getting what they want for Christmas.

  3. You have a wonderful, big heart! So sweet. Thanks for sharing this post! :)

  4. So sweet! We picked boys the same ages as our boys to buy gifts for this year!

  5. My grandmother was in charge of the giving tree at our church while she was alive. I remember helping her with it as I was growing up. I love the lessons that it taught me. I hope to teach mine the same.