Christmas at the shelter

It was raining. I mean raining. The “it’s a rainy night in Georgia and I feel like it is raining all over the world” type of raining. They waited under a porch roof; some could not escape the rain and so were soaked in part or the whole. The cool breeze was welcome. Over 60 stood in line, quietly and patiently to be served delicious food supplied by The Olive Garden and served by gracious young people who donated their time. They said they felt privileged to do so.

The room was decorated crudely but by loving hands. The residents ate in relays at folding tables covered by red plastic table cloths. They sat on metal chairs in an apartment converted to a dining room. And they loved it. It was such a treat. It was a big deal. Such a big deal to many. The kids’ rosy cheeks told the tale of their excitement. Parents chatted and gathered their brood. Dessert was homemade and donated, served on paper plates. The fact many went back for thirds testified to how good those desserts were. It may well be the only Christmas many there will experience this year. Some of the resident children stood outside in the rain and sang Christmas carols in a program they planned.

Then there were the gifts. They were carefully chosen and hand delivered in huge plastic sacks to those known to the organizers. Seventeen other unknown families who attended had their gifts bagged up on the spot. Gifts for adults and children, no one was overlooked. A mother danced up and down with joy to have gifts to put under her tree for her children. When she saw the gift marked “Lady” she could barely contain herself. She had no expectation of a gift this year. Grateful parents and children waited, their faces beaming. They were eager to see what had been sent to them through a local church. The gifts were beautifully wrapped and labeled. There is no way we could even pay for the time donated in that endeavor let alone the gifts.  

The volunteers were plentiful, families, men, women and children all busy and welcoming as they served each and every resident with kindness, love, and a “God bless you”. You had to be there. Perhaps you were. Similar events have been held all over, in every city and town and rural area in the US. And if you missed it this year, perhaps you and your family will be privileged to volunteer next year at any one of the stations along the way to a Christmas dinner at a shelter or Extended Stay.


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