Friday, December 12, 2014

Insider 's view of the Christmas Baskets

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. I’m actually pretty sure it’s in my genetic makeup to love the season. My grandma has always decorated her house and yard from high to low, bright lights and plastic Santa’s and multiple Christmas trees shine from Thanksgiving night til New Year’s in her neighborhood. Some of my earliest memories involve listening to my mom’s Elvis Presley Christmas decorations as I sat amidst our own house’s decorations in progress.

Ten years ago it took on a very different meaning for me. I started working at Dove in August of 2004, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that in addition to all of its other programs, Dove, along with Northeast Community Fund, did an annual Christmas basket drive for those who need it. I still remember showing up in the basement of First United Methodist Church, where the baskets are organized and put together, that first year.

Some tables were piled high with hats, gloves and scarves. Others were piled with toys, separated by gender and age. Still others were piled with clothing and shoes and things like blankets and towels. IN addition to all the tables of donations, there were numerous volunteers bustling around. Some were sorting hats and gloves, others counting toys to see how many we still needed in order to fill the baskets. I felt overwhelmed, but in that good way you feel when you realize how much people are doing to help others.

Over the years, I’ve done a bit of all the different jobs that need done during Christmas Baskets Week. But last year was my first year that I was a Community Services staff member. The Community Services Program organizes everything at the church. But long before that week, as I discovered last year, we begin collecting and counting, talking to volunteers who want to help, talking to people who want to adopt families for Christmas, and working on all of the paperwork that has to be done in advance for the week.

Countless staff and volunteer hours are poured into making sure that anywhere from 350 to 400 families have food and gifts on Christmas day. It’s a heartening reminder of what the true Christmas spirit is all about, and every year since, it’s something I’ve looked forward to.

Angie Williams, Community Organizer
Community Services, Decatur Area Project

Angie working at the 2013 drive.

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