These days it’s more important than ever to count our blessings. Things we once took for granted we now stop to be thankful for. How many of us know someone who has been laid off, whose income has been drastically altered or who has closed down a once thriving business? When things become difficult like they are for so many in this country (and around the world) it tends to bring us back to our roots and fill us with a much needed dose of humility. And, sometimes it opens our eyes and fills us with a new sense of empathy for those less fortunate. We realize……if things are tight for us…..what must it be like for those who really struggle? Those who are desperately in need?
I’m blessed and honored to be a part of a local outreach program that exists solely to help the poor or those who just suddenly, unexpectedly find themselves in dire straights financially. And, these days, there are a great many people who never, NEVER thought they’d find themselves reaching out for help. People just like you…..people just like me. Quite sobering and humbling. But, for the grace of God, how many of us could find ourselves in the same situation given just a few twists and turns in our own lives?
This organization is called CCA which stands for Christian Community Action. I’m part of the Charity League (CCACL) which is comprised of a group of women who work together to meet needs, and fill some of the breeches and gaps that need to be addressed. These are just a few of the women who donate time, energy and money to help meet these needs. (I’m the one without my CCA shirt on. Couldn’t find it that morning!)
What we are doing this particular day is getting ready to work the toy store for Christmas.
As shoppers come through the door they are greeted with this sweet nativity scene. A reminder of what Christmas is truly and historically about. It’s amazing to me that some people don’t even realize that this holiday originated as the celebration of the birth of Christ. Mind-boggling!
Those who shop at the toy store have registered and been pre-approved before they even get here. They have scheduled shopping times and a certain amount of “dollars” they can use for each child. Dollars is a term used loosely because, of course, no money ever exchanges hands. This table above is where they sign in. Then one of the volunteers walks through the store with them to help them select the items for their children.
This is one of the first things shoppers see – a large bulletin board that houses gift cards to various stores for ages 13-18. This age group is very, very much in need of donations. People tend to be quite generous for the little ones, but this age group tends to be somewhat forgotten. And, of course, it’s just as important for this precious age group to receive gifts during a difficult time as it is for the little ones. So gift cards are always welcome as well as other items for that age group such as clothes, jewelry, shoes, etc.
All of these items are brand new, nothing used, so the children feel special on Christmas morning.
There are a few (very few) electronic items donated for the older ones. There are rules and limitations on who gets these items. There has to be a certain number of kids in the family over the age of six to meet the requirements to “purchase” these items with their “dollars”. But, thanks so some wonderful people who have the heart to donate, these items are available for some, limited quantities though they may be.
There is a section for each age group for the boys and for the girls.
There are the cars and trucks for boys.
Fun stuffed animals and items for the very, very little ones.
Of course, Barbies and baby dolls for the precious little girls.
People were very generous with bicycles this year. Each child who receives a bike also receives a complimentary helmet.
There’s a sports shelf. While there were some items here this is an area where we need a great many more items and options for these kids.
Volunteers in the back separate and “price” the items into bins so they can be pulled for the store when needed.
A great many volunteers are needed for this effort each year. It’s difficult when we are all in such a hurry and time is always something we need more of. But it’s truly a blessing to stop in our tracks and think about someone else for a change.
The food pantry is another CCA store that is open year round and is always in need of donations. Our group, the CCA Charity League, has seen a desperate need here that we are trying to fill. We’ve adopted a shelf that we are trying to keep stocked as much and as often as possible. This shelf houses the diapers, paper goods such as paper towels, napkins and toilet paper, health and beauty items such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrushes and the feminine hygiene products. It’s very, very difficult to keep this shelf stocked as these items go very, very quickly. Some days we are able to meet the need better than others. The food, while so often lacking, is donated much more readily than these items. Therefore they are a much sought after commodity. Imagine not being able to afford these items and not being able to get them here either. The minute they are placed on the shelf they are snatched up by eager parents.
Unfortunately, due to the constant need, each family is only allowed two rolls of toilet paper each week whether they have two kids or eight. Now, imagine that for a minute…..could your family get by with that?
You can see that some of these shelves are severely lacking in goods. On the flip side of those who reach out more to help, one downfall in these difficult times is that it also causes people tighten their own belts out of fear and anxiety. It’s not that they don’t care, they just don’t feel they can donate food and money, because of their own personal struggles. So oftentimes the food pantry is greatly lacking in donations in times like this. And CCA is definitely feeling it this year.
Just like at the toy store families must be registered and pre-approved to shop here. They are each given a particular day and time to shop and a certain number of “dollars” depending on the size of their family.
Volunteers are constantly needed to help stock the shelves so that food is ready to be moved to the store.
I took this picture a couple of days ago. As you can see, sadly, there is nothing on this shelf.
Or this shelf.
Or this shelf.
Can you see how great our need is? Can you put yourself in these sweet family’s situations for just a minute and feel the desperation they must feel? If you can, and if you have been blessed enough to help – your donations would be so greatly appreciated.
“To him whom much has been given, much is required”.
If you’d like to make a monetary donation you may call #972-219-4315.
For pantry donations you may drop off at: 200 S. Mill Street; Lewisville, Texas 75057 (# 972-219-4344)
The Colony Donation Center; 5000 Main Street, Suite #270; The Colony, Texas 75056
Or simply check with your own local charity organization and make your charitable donations there. Time and money – always much needed in every town.
Have a very Merry Christmas! And help make someone else’s Christmas this year a very Merry Christmas, as well!