For a moment, I almost considered canceling my volunteer day that week, with so much to do to get ready to go away for Thanksgiving. I think back now, What if I hadn't gone? A little girl wouldn't have gotten her "new" pair of snow boots, the very boots I brought with me on a whim.
Earlier that day, I conjured all the excuses I could to get out of going to the pregnancy center where I am a volunteer counselor. At the center, we give community referrals and material assistance to women in often desperate situations needing a hand up. Below the counseling rooms, a thrift store of gently used, donated items helps the whole community with heavily discounted prices.
"I have a headache. I'm sick. I just simply have too much to do. My husband wants me to shampoo the carpets. I have PILES of dirty laundry. I have a blog post to write." The list went on and on. Quickly, before leaving to take the girls to school, I hopped on the computer to get caught up on e-mails knowing I wouldn't be back for a couple of hours. One by one, multiple e-mails from the mom bloggers all over the country talked about finding causes to give gifts and reasons to come together over the very act of giving.
I thought to myself, Here I have the perfect opportunity to give of my time to truly needy people and I am worried about laundry? Knowing that the center mostly worked with new and expecting mothers, I almost left a pair of boots by the door that my ten-year old daughter grew out of and we needed to give away. I hated to throw away the cute brown snow boots with soft pink trim and fuzzy pink poms-poms so I threw them in the car and drove the girls to school.
When I got to the center, I looked in the bag again. I forgot to clean an edge of salt residue from last years' snowfall. Maybe I shouldn't bring them in. Most people have babies here. What was I thinking?
The first client came and went. I wrote up her complex case and walked down to meet the next woman. A pair of clear, independent, strong eyes met mine. She was a hard worker, proud supporter of her four children, but she had just learned she would be on disability for the rest of her life and was about to be evicted from her apartment. She came to see if we could help her youngest, a two-year old. Mentally, I thought through the stacks of diapers, wipes, and clothes I could give her. Two was nearing the top of the range of donated items we stored to give out, but I believed we could help. Indeed I was able to gather a nice collection of barely worn items that would get her through the winter.
We talked about her two teenagers and how they would be able to help soon with jobs and driving. We talked about many things. I could tell she just needed to talk it out with someone which is why I was there.
And then, her little girl came up. A nine year old. I thought about the shoes in the car. Asking gently, I said, "You know my ten-year old daughter just grew out of a pair of snow boots. Do you think your daughter would fit in them?"
A light came into the woman's face. "Yes, I bet they would." I ran down to my car and grabbed the bag.
Looking over them briefly, she said, "They will fit her fine. Thank you and thank your little girl for me."
I went back into the counseling room with tears in my eyes. What if I had stayed home to do laundry?
Thank you moms from around the country for reminding me to go and give. Go -- even if you don't feel like it -- and you will find that you will be richly rewarded. Find somewhere to donate your time this holiday season to people who are struggling to live. It does make a difference- in their lives and yours.
Original Philly Moms Blog Post