So while I was out of work for a short while I volunteered at the charity my friend worked at. The charity was focused on homeless and/or below the poverty line clients, providing food, shelter, clothing. They had food pantries for those who had shelter and when they could, they would help with utilities. Once a year though they did this big extra push for the holidays. Sign up was pretty intense. An adult had to come in with as many of the other adults in the house as possible to an appointment and I would walk through the application with them. If someone couldn’t come they needed to provide a signed note with a copy of their id.
The process could be daunting with everything they needed- income statements (welfare, support, food stamps, disability, money under the table). They also needed to show where their money was going: rent, bills, support, etc. It’s a lot of info, but through that we can kind of gauge which family really does need what.
For Thanksgiving and Christmas a local grocer donates a few hundred turkey and “boxes” (all the fixings to go along with it.) We have to assign the boxes to the right families based on what they can cook based on their surroundings. The day after the Thanksgiving handout everyone is wiped but trying to set up the hall for the next days actual thanksgiving dinner for the residents that live there. We also have p coming inn asking for the turkey truck stuff. Having to tell them know was heartbreaking. I went back right after the holiday ended to start the Christmas rush, which includes TOYS! And honestly there is always a lot of donations. While the guys in the back organize all the donations they are constantly taking in, I’m upfront speaking to these families in what I’m sure feels just very embarrassing for them. I try to make it as easy as possible.
It’s 2007 -2008 -2009. A lot of firms in my area are closing up. Construction has ground to halt so much the rigs are up on blocks, a couple of premier financial places here have also imploded. So pretty much every socio-economic level, except for the very vastly rich, are feeling the effects. One day I’m speaking to this young woman, single mother of a very adorable 3/4 year old. She was laid off from the financial planning firm that she was with. Well everyone was laid off when it was raided. She was about to start a temp job, and thought that the house and car might be okay, but she had no way to do the Christmas holiday and gifts. She didn’t have all of the forms we needed, pay stubbs, etc., but I told her I would see what I could do in the meeting later. And that I would call her. The woman, who has been so gracious and kind to me (they had been here an hour early and didn’t get back to see me for another hour. That let them see how some other clients deal with their frustration – which was always directed to us. When we were done, I walked them to their car and the little girl and handed me this piece of paper she had been coloring the entire time. It was just a simple picture from a coloring book – beautifully done BTW. I was like oh honey, no let’s give it to your mama. Mom said nope, she told me that this one wasn’t mine it was for you, and she would sign her name – Sabrina. I hugged them both, went in the back and cried. Then I went back out and processed other applications.
In the end most everyone received help, the ones that stick out that didn’t get help claimed for 14 people for Xmas dinner (2 in jail, 1 in prison, 1 left home and moved North, due to this happening, they didn’t have power and were probably going to lose the rental. Someone else said they were going to sell the bikes his kid was getting from us because he “needed it”.
I saw my little coloring book girl and her mom on the last day. I got my church to sponsor her and another family. Presents, food, trees and decoration, clothing, shoes, kitchen supplies. It was fantastic.
That was the last year I did it, I still have that picture on my freezer. I still like to think she and her mama are doing good. It was about 9/10 years ago.