How to wrap Christmas JOY

The sky still black with night, my brother makes his way to my bedroom. Though his voice is hushed, it is electric with excitement "Becky! It's Christmas!" He did not have to wake me, as I had already taken my own silent trek to the living room to see for myself.

There are few things that compare to that time of excitement. Laying in bed with my little brother, watching the clock and waiting for it to be less night and more morning so we could finally wake up a mom who we now know was laying in her own bed, listening to our excited giggles and speculation the whole time. 

Now that I am grown, little has changed. There have been many Christmases where Jim and I have laid in bed, excitedly waiting for the moment that Tali and Zach would make their way into the living room... Listening as they peek into stockings, evaluate the gifts and who they were for, eventually making their way to our bedroom. Their hushed voices ringing with a joy that seems unique to Christmas morning.

It's a simple thing, yet that time-before-the-chaos of wrapping paper and bows and gifts are my favorite moments.

And so, as I talked to my friend (and cousin, and coworker- yes, she's all three) the other day about a project she has taken on at work... my heart broke.

Last year, Generations & 211 coordinated with other local agencies such as the United Way, the Salvation Army, local schools, businesses, and charitable organizations to create a "Christmas Clearinghouse". The goal was to be able to serve more families by eliminating duplication of services during this holiday season. So over the last month, Angela has been taking in calls from families who, for one reason or another, have no means to provide Christmas for their children this year. She has also spoken to many, many businesses and agencies who have offered to sponsor hundreds of children.

But the need is great. 

And at this moment, the need is outpacing the sponsorship.

As of a week ago, there were about 200 children that will not have Christmas, if we don't act. These are not kids in some far off land... these are kids that you pass on the street as they play outside in their yards. These   are kids that go to school with your own children. They play together at recess. Ride together on the bus. 

According to the American Consumer Credit Counsel, the average American will spend $935 on Christmas this year, the vast majority of that on gifts to family and friends. And there are children in our own communities that will wake up to nothing. It's hard to imagine, friends, but it is true. 

Our priority has become lavishing more and more and more on those who already have much, while we pretend that there aren't children going without. Kids who need to know that they are loved, and valued, and appreciated. Kids who need to know that they are not forgotten.

Tonight I am challenging you to be the one who remembers. To mobilize a group of friends and sponsor one or two or ten children. Talk to your Sunday School class, Bible Study group, spouse, best friend, coworkers... and do something.  As you buy and wrap gifts for these little ones, you will be doing more than filling their house with toys and clothes... you will be filling it with the hushed excitement and electricity of a Christmas morning. And that, friends, is how you can buy, wrap, and give Christmas joy this season.

You will give parents in desperate circumstances peace. And the knowledge that someone cares. 

Helping is easy... contact Angela Dobbs at 888-4279 or email her at adobbs@vinu.edu. We have had several calls this last week, children taken off the waiting list... but we have also had more applications submitted. The need is great, and you can help.

This isn't about playing Santa to a group of children, it's about being Jesus to them.

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