In our family...

In our family....we do second chances...we do grace...we do real...we do mistakes...we do I'm sorry (and I forgive you)...we do loud really well...we do hugs...we do family...we do love.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Helping Hands Project

I am having a hard time getting into the holiday spirit of Christmas. Not sure if it’s because my day’s are so filled up with living or because I see so much need and sadness around me.

There are so many people around me that are struggling with depression, financially, with health issues and with life in general. As a person that cares deeply about other’s, this is hard for me. It’s hard for me to not to take on their struggles but also to accept the fact that I am limited in what I can do. There are things I can do and things we can do as a family but I have to accept that I cannot do more than this.

I think one of the reason’s it’s so hard for me is because I have walked in many of their shoes. I know what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet. I know what it’s like to not have enough to go around, no matter how simple we lived or how much I cut corners and how it feels to wake up and not know what to do. I know what it’s like to wonder how we are going to buy enough food in the month of December, because it’s more important to keep the heat and electricity on, let alone buy Christmas presents or even a tree. There were year’s we didn’t have a tree and Santa did not come but the fact that we weren’t living out on the street and eating every day, kept us from complaining. We both worked and made enough to not qualify for any help. With no insurance and medical issues that required me to have surgery, we were over our heads with medical bills.

I understand what it means to work hard every day and stay just above water during the regular times of the year, but then things like Christmas and cold weather come and it throws people off. Cold weather brings heating costs, the need for warm outer clothing, and often times vehicle troubles because the cold is hard on them. It’s hard to be happy and joyful when you know that you will not be able to give your children Christmas gifts unless you make cuts somewhere else in your budget. Many of these people that struggle, don’t qualify for any assistance because they make just enough money. These are the people that hurt the worst, at this time of year, because they are the one’s that slip through the cracks. No one knows about them, so they usually aren’t on a list for local charities to give to them. People that are on assistance have a social worker, so therefore they will most likely already be on a list of those in need and local programs will often times provide gift’s to these families. Many time’s(not always) these children will receive an abundance of gift’s from various program’s while children that live in a home that doesn’t get assistance, get nothing. Many of these people suffer in silence and struggle with depression.

Some people qualify for food stamps so they can at least put food on the table but something many people don’t know is that you cannot buy toilet paper, dish soap, laundry soap and other necessities with food stamps.
It is a very humbling experience, to have to be on food stamps. Grocery store clerks are not always nice to people using food stamps. I have witnessed this myself. It’s easy to make assumptions about people getting assistance, because there are people that abuse the system, that was set up to help people in a time of need. The people, I know, that are on food stamps, do not feel good about themselves. I remind them that this is temporary and to help them out while they need it but they still feel badly.

These are the kinds of things that weigh down my heart as I try to figure out what I can do to make a difference…and what we as a family can do to make a difference, not just during the holidays, but all year. I have talked about this here, in a post called Enough is enough, but we have begun to take action on some of these things and are still coming up with more. Tomorrow I will share with you the things we are doing and planning to do as a family and personally. I am really excited about this, since it is something so close to my heart.

Thistle from Thistles and Maple Leaves, has begun a campaign to raise awareness about reaching out to others. It's called the Helping Hands project and you can go here to read about it. She has opened up an invitation to everyone, to get involved by starting to think about the things we can each do in the area of giving and reaching out. It is really an awesome thing, so I hope that you take the time and go check out what she has to say. I want to encourage you to take action, to make a difference in someone’s life. Look around you…at the people you have contact with…look at those things that your good at, those things you are passionate about and have knowledge of and see how you can use those things to make a difference in someone’s life.


thistle said...

That is beautifully written and so is the working poor who slip thru the cracks and are ineligible for assistance that have the toughest times during not only this season but all year round. Thank you for bringing them up...perhaps a secret santa program might be what they need! Thanks for participating and doing such a lovely acknowledgement of some of the needs that we don't always think about.

Life with Kaishon said...

Well, I can't wait to read about this project.

As a social worker, who works with the lowest income in our society, I would say that if someone that is in need, they should ask for help. I think pride keeps too many people from reaching out.

Churches will help people and never ask what your income is. This is just my 2 cents on the situations. I know that some people feel funny asking for help, but if you don't ask, you will never get.

This season, although filled with much merriment, is one of the saddest times of the year for so many. I am praying this season that there are many opportunities to share God's love and light with others.

The Incredible Woody said...

The people you named are exactly the ones that I would love to help. I only wish I could find out who they are!?!

amelia shelton said...

I have had big holiday burn out this year and the season just began! It must be my general sense of fatigue and overwhelmed time slots. Your post reminds me that I need to reach out to others to rid myself of this and get into the spirit. You write so beautifully and I am always touched by the things you say. You bless many lives my friend!

amelia shelton said...

Whoops! I am on my daughter's computer tonight. This is really Claire... but you knew that already!

SSG said...

great post again, and the helping hands idea is a very good one. I especially think today when lonliness is widespread and with the breakdown of community, sometimes all it takes is to visit people, get people together. It can help a lot to organise a get-together and encourage people to come, it can be very cheap, to just have crisps and listen to music or play charades and talk, but it's with the festive spirit. I was going to post something on volunteering and you've spurred me to incorporate this "helping hands" project too. thank you!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Another great post that touched my heart.