Column: Community Gives More Than Just Toys

by Harper Pitts
Photo by Harper Pitts Photo by Harper Pitts

The holidays are a very joyous and special time for me (a Christmas lover). Spending time with loved ones, decorating your house with lights, putting up a tree, the music, the food, the gifts, the movies; it is very uplifting part of the year for so many people. Yet, it can also be a very stressful time. A time of grief and worry, something I sometimes forget to think about. Through my own fixation with Christmas joy, I get so consumed in it that I sometimes forget about others. However, this year changed me for the better.

This year I volunteered at FBC Marlow’s Christmas store and had the most amazing experience. Starting the evening before, those of us volunteering went through some short training of what our job entailed and what we could do to help others feel welcomed. Shortly after, Pastor Jordey spoke with us about what the store really means and how we would impact these parents’ lives. He spoke on how for some, Christmas can be difficult financially and many people have to decide between buying gifts for their children and paying their bills. Hearing him say this made me finally fully understand the dire situations the holidays can put people in and why it was so important that we were there.

Although I have worked the Rotary Christmas auction for many years to help clothe children for the winter months, I have always just worked on the telephones. My experience at the Christ-mas Store was different because unlike the auction, I was face to face with the people in need. I was able to meet them and was able to hear their stories.

My job was to help parents find gifts for their children with what we had that was donated and help carry all of their gifts while they shop. The first mother I met with had four kids, and was very excited to shop for some gifts. We had gotten some gifts for her two older daughters and were finding gifts for her son. She said he had asked for Legos for Christmas and was looking for a specific Lego set. I took her to the table where I had seen a few Lego sets and she found the exact set he had asked for. She was so excited to find this gift, it brought her to tears. This truly changed my perspective and while we continued shopping and I took a moment to say a short prayer, expressing my gratitude for the blessings we were able to give to these families, the joy it brought the volunteers to help, and hoping every family there could have this same expression of joy this mother was able to feel. And thankfully, the parents I met with found so many gifts their children were looking for throughout the day.

This event showed me what impact kind actions and donations truly have. It’s more than a voice on the phone raising bid on an item to clothe kids in our community; it’s a parent of children, a member of our community who is in real need. And it is beautiful to see that the community of Marlow really shows how much they care about people in need too.