In Washington County approximately 13,900 children live in poverty and there many circumstances that can put a family at risk. Sometimes we can be quick to judge without really stopping to consider how poverty happens. No matter the situation, falling on hard times deeply impacts the most vulnerable, our children.
Each holiday season Good SAM Christmas Family Ministry works with local schools to identify children who are in need of a little extra help. Here are a few encounters they experienced during this year’s outreach.
Can you imagine being a grandparent on a fixed income trying to raise your grandchildren? There is a remarkable grandmother who is doing just that. After the loss of her daughter to breast cancer, she took in her grandchildren to raise them as her own. Christmas probably looks very different for these children this year and assuredly the grandmother was trying to figure out how to provide Christmas for them. As her car was loaded with clothes, bikes, toys, and kitchen items the grandmother wept, overwhelmed and thankful for the kindness of strangers.
Gifts were delivered to a single mom who works in a nursing home, caring for our nation’s disabled veterans. When they arrived at her one bedroom duplex, she greeted them in her immaculate living room, decorated with a beautiful white Christmas tree. The mother and two daughters share a bedroom while her teenage son sleeps on the sofa. She was delighted to see a new bed for her girls. Working many hours of overtime will soon allow her to move her family into a three bedroom duplex. This Christmas is the beginning of new hope for her family.
Raising your own children in this day and age is hard enough but could you absorb and raise someone else’s? The volunteers were humbled to meet a single mom who was not only raising her own two children, but also raising three additional children, despite the financial burden it posed. She simply says, “This is my assignment from God. What else would I do?”
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2
One of the last families to arrive to pick up their gifts was a deaf couple raising their two teenage boys. After all the packages were loaded, the parents turned around with tears streaming down their faces, signing “thank you” and “I love you”. Despite the language barrier, it was clear that the love of Christ was shared.
This year 24 families with a total of 68 children were served. Generous donations from Central members helped to provide over 1,100 items of new clothing, toys, furniture, food, household items, and 34 children received bikes. Many received winter coats, gloves, and boots. Seven of the families received beds and mattress sets, providing much needed places to sleep. Families also received food so they could serve a Christmas dinner and have enough to feed their children during the Christmas break from school. Each of the 24 families supported this Christmas have faced many difficulties. God is working through Central and the Good SAM Christmas Family Ministry to provide hope and restoration.