My husband, son and I spent 8 hours yesterday volunteering at the Salvation Army Angel Tree distribution in central Arkansas. This was our first time to participate in that, and it was such a rewarding and eye-opening experience for all of us! We see the bell-ringers outside the stores and the little angel cards dangling from Christmas trees at the mall and other places, and we’ve contributed to both in the past, but it was the first time we’ve seen behind-the-scenes of the Angel Tree program.
Dozens of volunteers collected the gifts purchased for the children, and other gifts were donated by local retailers and community members. The volunteers separated everything by family and then by child. Everything was numbered and checked and rechecked for accuracy. Volunteers distributed the gifts to the parents, who were allowed to “shop” from tables of toys and gifts for the children who were not selected from Angel Trees. Everyone left with at least a few gifts for each of their children 15 and under. If I heard correctly, over 1300 families were served this year in central Arkansas (I don’t have exact numbers, but I saw gifts for many, many children).
In tough economic times, charitable giving drops — understandably. But many of the organizations are also desperately in need of another type of assistance — your time. Charitable organizations such as the Salvation Army need help year-round, not just at Christmas. If you can only give a few hours to assist the Salvation Army or a local food kitchen or homeless shelter or animal shelter or any other charity that appeals to you, I urge you to do so. The few hours my husband, son and I spent yesterday were more rewarding to us and put us into the spirit of the season much more than any of the many hours of shopping we’ve done during the past weeks!
For all my visitors here who celebrate Christmas, I wish you peace and joy in this special holiday. And to all my family and friends, nearby and far-away, those I know personally and those I meet only through my books and this blog, I wish you a happy and healthy 2010!
Don’t forget to enter the drawing for the January 1 prize. Click the Enter to Win! tab above for details. I’ll post again on January 1 to announce the winner. Until then, take care.