Always the one day each year that each child anticipates and looks forward to with wonder and hope.
Well, not every child. At this time of year I cant help but think of the many children in our area who may receive very little -- if anything -- when they wake on Christmas morning. Dinner for these children and their parents will not be the feast most Americans are use to celebrating with family. How do I know? I use to be that child.
I remember our family struggling to make ends meet, not just at Christmas, but much of the year. Despite my mother working two jobs, many times she found it very difficult to meet our basic needs. Christmas was one of the harder times. As a child it was difficult, but it was also difficult on my mom. She knew she could not afford to buy us the fancy toys or the latest fashions. This had to be frustrating for a parent.
When I was young, I remember receiving some things from our church around Christmas time. It was usually food, but sometimes we would get small gifts as well. My mom rarely ever asked for help, but if it showed up, especially if we, my brothers, my cousin who lived with us, and I were around, she would accept it. She was always torn between wanting to provide everything for our family herself and the reality that sometimes it was just too difficult.
Why not contact a government or local agency for help? Some families do, but some feel others are in greater need and do not want to use those resources. My family could have qualified for many of these programs. However, we did not access them. Not being able to provide everything for your family is heart breaking, yet I see the parents of some children dealing with the same struggle my mom did over us.
There are many programs that will help struggling families, but often the help needs to be requested. This is a difficult step for some parents. Other lesser known programs, like Boots for Kids, will provide support with a referral from others outside the family such as school personnel. It doesnt matter where the help comes from, as long as it reaches the children.
Im just one person, but I wanted to make a difference for those children with and among whom I have so much in common. For the last two years Ive been working with colleagues to provide support for as many families as we can. With the support of great people and the willingness to donate from local businesses and individual community members, some of the struggling families in our area will receive a little extra hope and wonder this Christmas.
The support provided to our Christmas Families is not made known to the children. The parents are able to give the gifts to their children, either from Santa or themselves. The children never know the gifts came from anywhere else, as it should be.
If you would like to help struggling families please contact community agencies in your area.
Special ed teacher Beth Havens is gathering donations for Christmas families. To help out, please email: