We are just a few days from Christmas and there are still things I need to do for my family and friends. My heart and mind are full, however, of some incredible experiences from yesterday that I just must share with you.
My friend and I took the day off yesterday and went to a distribution center for a local agency. They are open from 8:00 to noon to pass out clothing and household items. They meet the needs of the homeless in our community as well as those at-risk families in temporary housing. Everything is free. Each person’s name is put into their computer system to be able to track how often they visit and the type of supplies they are needing.
It was a cold Kansas winter morning – 18 degrees when I left the house. We took 2 gallons of coffee, 2 gallons of hot chocolate, clothes, toys and stocking stuffers. Much of what we had was new. As people came in we offered them something hot to drink and then asked them if they had kids or grandkids that they needed help with for Christmas. As they continued their “shopping,” we put together bags of clothing, books and toys based on the ages and gender they gave us. Here were the highlights:
We had a men’s size 10.5 name brand basketball shoe in virtually new condition. I had contacted a few people the previous week that I thought may be able to use it. All of them declined. Just fifteen minutes after our arrival, a woman saw the shoes and asked if she could have them for herself. She was wearing a pair of well-worn generic “Crocs” and her feet were quite swollen. My friend bent down to put one on her to see if they would fit. Honestly, neither one of us thought they would, (my friend confided in me later) but as she knelt before this woman, tying her shoes, the woman and I were both so touched. She assured my friend that she did not need to tie her shoes but my friend told her it was no problem. The woman exclaimed with delight over how comfortable they were and was so excited that they would keep her feet warm. The worker there told us later that this woman, like most others we had met that morning, have no transportation and walk most everywhere. We still do not understand how, but those shoes fit her perfectly!
The friend who gave me those shoes, posted this today: “Sometimes you have to stop worrying, wondering and doubting, and have faith that things will work out… maybe not how you planned, but just how it’s meant to be.” She was referring to her own life, but I applied it to her shoes! I could never have planned that “fit” but it turned out just how it was meant to be!
A couple hours into our time a couple came in, who had the cares of the world carved into their troubled faces. They were grateful for the hot drink. As I served them, I asked if they had any kids. The woman started crying and her husband hung his head. It seems he had been hit on his job and was not able to work. They were waiting for workman’s comp to begin and had no gifts for their two daughters 10 and 12 or their 18 year old son. She said she knew her son would understand, but wondered if we had anything for her girls. We did not, but I did not tell her that. I told her we would see what we could do while they continued shopping. After a quick conversation with my friend, I told her I was going home to see what I could gather, as I live just a mile from where we were. I came back with a bag containing something for each of the kids, including the 18 year old, and a few things for the family overall. A couple of those things had just been given to me two days before. We also tucked in boxes and tissue paper so that they could wrap them. It was amazing!
While I was gone, my friend began putting the clothes that we had brought into the appropriate sections in this store. She knew they were closing soon and that it would expedite the time we had to pack up. In that final 15 minutes there were a number of families who came in. One woman asked if we had any clothing for her 18 month old granddaughter who lives with her. I apologized, knowing that we didn’t have any 18-24 month old clothing, then asked her what size she needed. She told me 3T. There was a pile of clothing that my friend had left near the toys we were giving away. I asked her if they were there for somebody in particular, not knowing why she didn’t add them to the shelves with the rest of the clothes. She didn’t know why she had left them there, but as I looked through them, they were all for a girl and they were all size 3T. I could not believe it!
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the coat. Another friend of mine donated three coats – one of them a K-State coat. When we walked in with them, one of the men staffing the store told us that he had always wanted a K-State coat. We made sure he went home with it.
I am not sure how many people we helped that day but the worker there told us that what we gave them was most likely all they would have for Christmas. We left with empty tubs and full hearts, absolutely amazed by God’s provision. All we did was show up and offer what we had. I’m learning that’s all He asks. What seems like little to us, can be plenty when blessed by God. What may seem random to us, can turn out to be just how it’s meant to be.
Have a Very Merry Christmas as you Celebrate the Greatest Gift!