After retirement I became more aware of families who were struggling to meet the basic needs of survival. This became evident especially during the holidays. First step was to supply food; through my church we established the share program. One month we picked up food packages from the warehouse, took it to the church and were able to offer food for a small set amount. Soon it caught on and parishioners began to donate and buy packages for the poor. The drivers from UPS delivered turkeys.
This was the beginning of the Christmas program but the food program continued throughout the year. I take my hat off to the volunteers; with their help it became a group effort. It had a measured effect on all who participated old and young alike. This blossomed into the distribution of gifts for children. The whole congregation became involved and those parents who faced a Christmas and very little to give their children contacted me and the lists grew to an enormous amount. I arranged for the parents alone, to come on a certain day and pick up gifts for their children. I wanted them to wrap the toys and give them to the kids. This was to prevent them from feeling the stigma of poverty. We had all a department store could handle everything from dolls, trucks, bats, all kinds of balls even bicycles.
The fire dept provided Christmas trees while our teenagers provided decorations. Always we had candy canes and bags of Christmas candy for the family. One year a mother had a single child and had to bring her with her so while the Mother stepped into a separate room. We had the little girl hand out the candy and tuck a good-will prayer in every little bag. This continued for five years through the blessing of the Lord's influence over so many people. We no longer have the Christmas program much to our dismay, however, it has changed in that every Tuesday evening enormous amounts of food are prepared and the poor come to the church to be fed.
The concept of helping others will continue not just during the holidays but all year round. First it was the homeless, but now it has become families too. With the economy in such dire shape it looks to be even more difficult for these poor families. This program may have several names as time goes by, but always it will be based on what the Lord decides for it is designed to glorify God.