“I have to remind myself: I can’t do everything, but I can do something.”
I grew up poor. I knew what hungry felt like—lonely and forgotten. I knew what standing in the food bank line-up felt like, my face burning in shame, praying no one from school would see me there with my mom.
I remember the stress of the season on my parents. They worked hard to make the holiday happen. We never sat down to an empty table at Christmas time. We often found ourselves at relatives for dinner. Whether that was a convenient invite or tradition, I am thankful we had family.
Knowing how hard Christmas was for my family, makes my heart go out to all the people in our community who will struggle in the same way, or with less, this Christmas.
This will be my fourth season of helping with our church’s Christmas hampers. These go out to the families in our community that have the greatest need.
Confession: I have felt overwhelmed by the project this year. Everywhere I look there seems to be so much need. It can feel overwhelming, but also makes us close off our hearts. When I see many hurting, it feels like nothing I could do could possibly make an impact. I have to remind myself, I can’t do everything, but I can do something.
Our church started a Community care outreach four years ago. We asked the Surrey School District if we could adopt a school, but were told there were four schools in our district in desperate need. So, as a church we said, Yes.
There are a number of children that rely on the school breakfast and lunch programs to eat. The Christmas break brings empty tummies rather than excitement for these kids. Relate church agreed to provide hampers to those families in need to help them through Christmas time.
The first year we put together 100 hampers. This year the need has grown and we are stretching to 200 hampers.
Last year I helped with deliveries, something I had not done before. My heart was shattered as I drove through the neighbourhoods. Most of the houses looked dilapidated, even abandoned. I couldn’t believe children actually lived there.
At one house that evening, when there was no response at the door, I peeked into a window to see if anyone was home. I saw an empty room with garbage on the floor. The home was filthy; I remember thinking the people must have moved. Then I noticed an area in the back of the room covered by a foam play mat and a small scattering of toys. A child lived there.
I don’t know the stories of the families in these communities. Whatever it is, I have seen the change that occurs when these children receive the hampers. Here’s the fun part: We not only fill them with food, we also add a gingerbread house kit and little Christmas treats.
I wish you could see the kids jumping up and down with excitement when they see the treats. Or the mother’s eyes, filled with gratitude, as she realizes she won’t have to stand at an empty fridge that night wondering what to feed her babies.
I think you can see why this moves me so much. These are families in my own city now; and it used to be my family.
When Idelette and I prayed about this post on the phone last night, we remembered the story about the little boy who brought his five loaves and seven fishes to Jesus. There was a very big, hungry crowd to feed and, to the disciples, it seemed impossible. This year, this hamper project feels like feeding a rather large crowd and it seems impossible, but I don’t want to be overwhelmed. I want to be like the little boy who kept his eyes on Jesus and bring what I have, so He can multiply it.
Very specifically, we need the multiplication of peanut butter, KD and gingerbread house kits.
So, today, this is what I am wondering: To our local readers: Next time you go to the grocery store, if you live in Surrey or Langley, could you pick up an extra jar of peanut butter, two boxes of Kraft dinner and/or a Gingerbread House kit?
800 boxes Kraft dinner
200 Gingerbread house kits
200 jars of peanut butter
Note: The gingerbread houses are my favourite! I love to think of the kids putting them together, eating most of the candy along the way. If they are anything like my boys, it will be messy, but good fun.
If you would like to be involved with this project with your children, we pack the hampers together at Relate Church on December 17 @ 6:30 pm. You can even deliver a hamper personally to a family, if you’d like. I will be taking my nine-year-old son Owen to deliver hampers with me this year. I know it will be an amazing experience he won’t forget.
To our global readers: We know you likely have the same need in your city, but if you’d like to make a financial donation and contribute to the hampers, here’s how:
Donate online here. (Please be sure to designate the donation to Community Care by typing HAMPERS in the box on the bottom right-hand corner of the page. Tax receipts for donations over $10 will be mailed to you.
Or you can phone in your donation at 604-599-8989.
You can drop off the food items directly at Relate Church at:Relate Church 6788 152 Street Surrey, BC V3S 3L4
If you are local to the Surrey/Langley area, I would even be happy to pick them up from you! You can email me here.
Thank you so much for opening your heart and reading this. Please, would you share this with your world? The more people reached, the more chance we have of reaching our goals and feeding a crowd of families this season.
Daniela is stepping into the role of stay-at-home mom. She loves Jesus, her husband and kids and jumps feet first into opportunities to serve in her community. Daniela lives by this statement, “Preach the gospel always, use words when necessary.” She loves to live life big and laughs a lot. She blogs at Daniela Schwartz.