Monday, December 20, 2010

holiday joy.

I know it's been a while since I've written.  There's really no excuse except for lack of time.  

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, a group of truly amazing friends/family and I ended up adopting 6 families in need this holiday season.  We provided the families with necessities such as shoes, coats and blankets as well as toys, games, books and a complete holiday meal.  It took an army of volunteers to shop, wrap, organize, label, package and deliver, but worth every minute.  So much time was consumed by our efforts that I forgot the most important thing, taking care of myself.  I ended me up in bed with a flu for a few days.  

While I was sick I visited an Acupuncturist in town, Eyton Shalom.  Eyton asked me how I got the flu so I shared the story about our efforts with the adopt-a-families.  He then asked if we personally donate the gifts to the families.  I replied that we prefer not to donate directly so as to prevent the families from feeling any discomfort, besides, it's not about us.  We want the kids and the family to enjoy Christmas in the purest form without feeling like "charity cases".  Eyton then applauded our group by saying something that has stuck in my mind,  
"the true act of charity is giving anonymously".  
He then went on to explain that when charity is done anonymously, there is no room for self gratification.  I agree with him.  Our efforts weren't about us- every ounce of energy we put into it was for helping the families in need.  For me, it was all about bringing joy into homes that may usually be surrounded by stress, struggle and sorrow. 

It's an amazing feeling to volunteer and give 100% of yourself to something/someone else without expecting anything in return.  As I look back on the past few weeks of experiencing the adopt-a-family project, I can't even put into words the joy that I got from it.  People that we didn't even know stepped in to volunteer/donate.  Distant friends and family reached out to help.  Local friends and family took time out of their busy schedules to volunteer their time to help.  And I will never forget the kid in Home Depot who walked up and shook my hand thanking me for our efforts or the cashier at Sears who said, "You guys are great. I wish they had a program like this when I was in the foster care system."  Priceless memories and ones that I will cherish forever.  As I reminisce, I have goosebumps all over from sheer happiness and a full heart.  

I hope you will take a moment this holiday season to think about all of your blessings. 

Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Gift of Giving.

The lights are sparkling, the tree is adorned with beautiful, sparkly ornaments and the holiday cards are sealed and sent. Ah...the holidays are here!  It's a wonderful time to celebrate with friends and family and the perfect opportunity to reflect on the many blessings we have.  A few years ago, as I was running around frantically looking for the "perfect gift" for everyone on my list, I realized that my true holiday spirit and the true gift of giving had been replaced by stress, mall traffic and grumpy fellow shoppers.  At that moment, I decided to make a change.  I wanted my favorite holiday back and I wanted it to mean something more to me than gifts and greed.  

Last year, my good friend Kathi and I took the leap and decided that we were going to adopt a family in need for the holidays.  We really had no idea what we were getting ourselves in to.  We found a great local organization call Community Housing Works and I knew they were the right fit when I read their mission statement, "Community Housing Works is a San Diego non-profit that helps people and neighborhoods move up in the world by providing a full range of housing options combined with training and support."  This organization is literally saving families from living on the streets and helping families re-build their lives.  Once we received our family wish list we immediately reached out to our friends and loved ones for donations.  We knew we had great friends and family, but we had truly did not expect the outpouring of support that we received.  So much support was coming in that we felt it was only right to spread the holiday joy to more families.  We ended up adopting 3 families last year!  We provided each family (and each family member) with necessities like jackets, shoes, clothing, blankets and fun gifts like family games, toys for the children and books.  In addition to providing these gifts we also provided each family with a holiday meal.  Each gift was beautifully wrapped and upon our delivery of the gifts to Community Housing Works, our hearts were fuller than ever.  Full of joy knowing these 3 families were getting the Christmas of their dreams and full of love from the amazing outpouring of generosity from those nearest and dearest to us.
I never expected the impact that adopting these families would make on me and others. It's a wonderful feeling when friends asks, "hey are you adopting families again this year because I want to help again!"  The overwhelming response from last year is what has driven us to adopt again this year.  We are currently in the thick of accepting donations and already my heart is filled up with the holiday spirit and the love of friends & family.  The long hours of planning, shopping, wrapping, packing & labeling are all worth this wonderful feeling of joy.  

If you want to help with our efforts, we would love your participation.  No matter what, I suggest you consider thinking of those in need this holiday season and do your part to help give them the Christmas that they too deserve.

Peace. On. Earth.