At the school where I work we have a very high "free and reduced lunch" population. I think it is at about 80% or higher. The holidays are hard for and on many of the families. Some really wonderful people and organizations work together to make the holidays a bit more merry for many of those families. The Gear Up counselor, Craig, and the students in his program decorated candy canes to give to the people who attended a special dinner on Tuesday. I really loved checking their creative progress and cheering them on each day.
On Tuesday we, along with the local police department, put on a dinner for about 50 families from our school who are homeless (this means that they live in shelters, hotels, cars, etc.). It was about 300 people. Folks from my school, along with many local police officers, took the wishlists of the kids and made sure that every kid received a gift he/she really wanted. I am certain that many of those people took money out of their own pockets to make this fine event happened. Local restaurants provided food, drink and desserts. A small group from the Marine's Band provided a color guard and music. It was a jolly event indeed.
I organized a large group of freshmen students and their teachers to create nearly 100 individualized cards that will grace the dinner plates of the people who are in a medical rehabilitation center near my school. I am certain that it will bring a smile to the faces of people who are spending the holidays in a hospital setting instead of with family at home.
My friend, Natalie, worked with a group of church women to deliver plates of holiday cookies to people who are homebound. She said that many of those women were fully dressed, hair done, impeccably made-up and nails perfect, even though they did not expect visitors. I am sure those visits are a highlight of their days as well.
It does my heart good to see that the holiday season is not just gifts under the tree, long lines at the layout counter at the local Walmart or card sent in the mail. Extending some cheer to people, even though you don't know them, does us all a little good.