Many years ago, in Fort Collins, Colorado, where I used to live we had one of the snowiest Decembers, which I can remember. During that period of time, I had three very young children, and was recently separated from my first husband. This was not an easy period for any of us, but it was especially difficult for the woman in charge of her brood… that would be me.
I had little wages, and needed to provide for my tiny three. Now with Christmas rapidly approaching I found myself yet again deep in a muddle. I had always been ferociously independent and determined to provide the goods for my tot’s Christmas. The only question was, how?
As the days grew closer to that holiday of joy, I was having a difficult time finding any, in mine. Someone dear to me suggested I go to the Salvation Army and sign up for a food basket, and if I got there early enough they said, sometimes they have enough gifts to give the children before they run out.
I had been raised very poor, and handouts had always been a way of life for me during my growing up years. However, now as an adult, I found this notion apprehensible. My heart broke with the thought of receiving charity to provide a Christmas for my children.
Eventually, deciding I had no choice I knew I had to venture to, Salvation Army. The roads were terrible, the snow was very deep, and I had to drive at a crawling speed in order to get there at all. I was also a brand new driver, and driving in snow was a bit nerve racking for the young mother I was. Finally, I arrived.
After making my way inside, I waited my turn and eventually sat down to be interviewed and fill out the appropriate paperwork. I gazed at the person sitting across from me, that person in charge. I began to weep with shame and anguish. How could my life have veered in such a direction, as this?
I felt humiliation and grief for my recent losses and remembered only too well my childhood of being given charity. I had vowed once I grew into a woman, to be the giver of charity instead of being the one in need of it. Sometimes plans can go awry, and for me it seemed they had.
I wish I could say, I eventually collected myself as the grownup I was, but I did not. While I filled in all the appropriate fields on the papers I was given, I continued to sob like one of my babes. I remember very little of the whole ordeal. Mostly I remember falling apart. I also recall their kindness to me. I never forgot that.
I eventually did receive the needed food box and gifts for my tiny precious children. I made that holiday season as bright as I could. And because of the food box, we ate very well. Time marched on; I did survive those dark unhappy days. Now whenever I hear those bells ringing at the store fronts, I always make sure to give generously, remembering what it was like to be in need, and wishing you weren’t.
The Salvation Army does so much, for so many people in dire straits. So please do not hurriedly run by those bell ringers, give, because you never know, one day you might be in need of their help too.