True Christmas Giving
By Othello Bach
One frigid Christmas Eve when I was six, my mother had no choice but to take her seven children to the Salvation Army. Bundled up in practically every stitch we owned, and with gunny sacks tied around feet to trudge through the snow, we walked from our shack outside the city limits to a small church where the Salvation Army Santa was supposed to hand out gifts.
My sisters and I had prayed for rubber dolls for weeks. Maybe our prayer would be answered.
I have no idea how far we walked but it seemed like miles, and once there, a crowd jammed the door. Mother kept saying, “I have children here. Please, let us in.” My three older brothers ran around the church and entered through another door. They wanted to get up front, hoping for a better gift.
When we finally wiggled our way inside and squeezed onto a pew, the stifling heat and stench of wet wool coats made me nauseous. We heard Santa “ho-ho-ho-ing” in the front of the room but couldn’t see him. Then we were told to hold up our hands so a lady could bring us presents.
We held our arms as high as we could, but after a while, our elbows sagged. “Keep you hands up!” mother whispered franticly. “Keep them up so you’ll get present.”
We tried. But she had to tell us several times. It was so crowded we just couldn’t be seen. My little sisters began to cry. “Please!” mother called repeatedly. “Over here! I have small children!” When she was finally noticed, a smiling lady handed her three gifts. Instantly our hopes for a doll vanished. The gifts were far too small.
My sisters and I received little rubber trucks.
However, the walk home wasn’t too bad; one of my brothers received a pair of stilts and entertained us stumbling about in the snow. The others received a baseball and bat—plus, our unwanted rubber trucks.
Last night, at
That’s when my memory returned like a bolt of lightening, and I suddenly had to blink back tears.
It may appear that a child is selfish and ungrateful to cry in such a circumstance, but when situations seem particularly hopeless, one more disappointment can be unbearable. Then today, I learned that after the program ended, the boy received the gift he longed for: a toy truck! Decades ago, I cried because I got one; last night, he cried because he didn’t!
I hope everyone reading this will consider helping Pastor Jeff Newton fulfill his incredible mission. He established the Kokomo Urban Outreach three years ago, and that year served approximately 50 families. This year, he has served 25,000 meals... so far.
Kokomo Urban Outreach has two locations where 300 dinners are served each week, and in three other locations there are food pantries that provide food to neighborhood families. Pastor Newton and his generous volunteer staff will distribute 1000 Christmas Day sack lunches, but he still needs help packing and delivering on Christmas Day. Packing will begin at Christmas Day and deliveries will be made between 11 and 12. If you can help for even one hour, your assistance will be deeply and sincerely appreciated.As the economy weakens, the number in need will increase each week. Hunger and need do not end after
Christmas. Pastor Jeff constantly needs help keeping the pantries full and continuing to do the work of Kokomo
Urban Outreach. His phone number is: 461-9618. You’ll never regret lending a hand.