For me, Christmas has always been a time of giving and of showing a little extra care and love for your fellow human beings. For as long as I can remember, the lead up to and including Christmas Day was often spent with the most vulnerable of our society. My family traditions are unconventional and can include serving dinner in a homeless hostel on Christmas Day, delivering Christmas presents to vulnerable families, delivering meals to isolated elderly people, and generally ensuring Christmas is a reality for everyone, no matter their circumstances.
Within this world that seems filled with anger, hatred, war, fighting, and a season that seems filled with commercialism, capitalism and greed….it can be hard to see through to the goodness and kindness that can be seen at this time of year.
Over the past couple of days I have had the privilege of being part of small acts of kindness that, in many ways, have helped make the world of difference to some families who have perhaps not been feeling full of Christmas cheer.
A week ago I took part in The Rucksack Project and took donations to my local homeless hostel. The idea was to fill a rucksack with contents for a homeless person to make it through the cold winter months on the street. These rucksacks can make the world of difference to people in the longest, darkest and coldest months of the year.
Yesterday we had the privilege of making food parcels available to those who may be in need or struggling to fill their cupboards during this expensive season. Over the course of the day we saw over 30 large bags of food leave the building in the hands of families who needed it or who were passing on the food to friends in need.
Today, however, was a game changer. A parent of a child I teach had been struggling recently. Life had been dealing a lot of blows and her depression had been ‘as bad as it had ever been’. Over the past few weeks we had seen her become more and more withdrawn, looking more and more drained, and intensely sad….and we were worried for her. Following a brief chat with her where she opened up a bit about how she had been feeling, we decided to ask her if she would like to volunteer with us in the school. Knowing she tended to be confined to the house and had been finding it difficult to find work, we wanted to give her an opportunity where she could be out of the house and around other people. After considering this she said yes. Today was her first day volunteering with us. And for the first time in the four months since we met her, we saw a huge smile on her face.
I can only hope this is the beginning of something better for her.