I like to think that I am a very blessed individual. I make enough money to have a good roof over my head. I drive a newer vehicle and can afford to pick up most everyone a little something for Christmas this year. However I don’t think that I will be taking any spur of the moment trips anywhere warm though.
I have to work hard for every dollar that I earn. Getting up at 5 each and every day to be at the plant for 6:30 can be a grind, but it makes me appreciate each and every dollar that much more. It also puts into sharp perspective the situations that many in our society are in. With the economy in the crapper, times are tough for a lot of people. Even those that may still have a job are relying more and more on the charity of others.
So with that in mind I and a group of like-minded people got together last night to give a little time and hopefully take a bit of the worry out of the Christmas season. Every year in Winnipeg the Christmas Cheer Board takes donations from across the city and compiles thousands of hampers for the less fortunate. Ranging from single moms, to low-income families these donations bring a little joy to what could otherwise be a bleak time of year.
With that in mind our little group met up and we broke into pairs to play Santa Claus for some down on their luck families. My co-pilot Eric and I had never done this before and we were quickly sorted out by one of the helpful volunteers who work in the warehouse. Picking an area that was fairly close to home gave me a familiarity with the streets but also a slight apprehension that we were heading into one of the rougher parts of town.
After receiving our care packages, GPS co-ordinates were plugged in and we set course for the heart of deepest Elmwood. For those that are familiar with Winnipeg, Elmwood is one of those rough and tumble neighbourhoods that always seems to make the newscast for the wrong reasons. Gang activity is on the rise as are incidents of violent crime. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the people who live in that area are necessarily bad but there are some nasty elements that come with living in a low rent part of town.
Pulling up to the first set of apartment buildings I noticed that the streetlights seemed to be out on this particular block but undaunted we soldiered on. A phone call was made and an eager young woman met us at the front door to the complex. As boxes changed hands I noticed a pair of little eyeballs peaking around the corner. Eyes filled with childhood wonder at the brightly wrapped package that sat atop the box of holiday food.
The mom seeing her young son peering out from behind the corner waved him forward to meet Eric and myself. Sheepish hesitation was quickly replaced by curiosity as the boy quickly ran to his mother’s side. His eyes never strayed far from the present that was obviously meant for him.
We exchanged heartfelt Merry Christmas greetings and were on our way into the cold night to continue our rounds. The rest of our deliveries went in pretty much the same fashion. Young children hiding behind their moms and slightly older ones helping to carry what they were about to receive. Everyone seemed thankful and if only for a moment the parents, Eric and I shared in the wonder of watching children’s excitement at the coming of Christmas.
Now I could go off on a rant about how these parents should be ashamed of themselves and get out and find better work. But speaking as one who has been in similar circumstances a time or two, I know now is not the time to judge.
This is the season for forgiveness and of family, of wonder in children’s eyes, and of giving. Christmas time should be about sharing what we have. Digging deep into those pockets and supporting a charity or cause. If my driving some presents and turkeys to help cheer up a deserving family is all it takes to put a smile on a child’s face then it’s time and money very well spent.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Everyone!