Monday, October 18, 2010

Adopt a Family this Holiday Season

It’s not only during the holidays that I’m thankful for my family and what we have.  I’m thankful for our beautiful son (who, happily, was born on Thanksgiving 2009), our health and our general happiness with life.  And I’m thankful for our outlook and way of life—never spending more than we earn and being content with the [inexpensive] things we have.  This outlook (and our jobs, which I’m also thankful for) has enabled us to live comfortably while being economical and sock away a little nest egg.  While our nest egg was no mistake—my husband and I work hard for what we have and go without the latest cell phones and gadgets, drive older cars and watch TV on cathode ray tube television sets—we are grateful for our jobs, skills and contacts that helped us get here.

But it is during the holidays when I start to think about others who are less fortunate than us.  (I now wish that I thought about the less fortunate all year long.)  I don’t know what it’s like to not have my basic needs met, or to not be able to meet the basic (or not-so-basic) needs of our son.  It makes me sad to think that there are people out there who are struggling to get by, even when they’re making all the right choices and working hard to better their financial positions.  And it makes me even sadder to think that their children could be going without their needs or desires fulfilled.

And that’s why we adopt a family every year through the Bucks County Opportunity Council. This is my favorite charity because their goal is to get people back on their feet by helping them achieve and maintain self-sufficiency.  The people who are accepted into the program are not looking for handouts.  They are hard-working families who are dedicated to overcoming poverty.  The Bucks County Opportunity Council operates on the principle that empowering people with education, training, resources and skills to permanently leave poverty is better than helping them cope in poverty.  Program participants graduate with family-sustaining wage employment and the education and resources to remain permanently out of poverty.

The Bucks County Opportunity Council’s Adopt-a-Family program gives me the chance to help a hard-working but less-fortunate family have a better Christmas.  Many of these families can’t afford the luxury of Christmas gifts for their children.  From a parent’s perspective, I can feel the sadness of not being able to give your child a gift for Christmas, knowing that his or her friends will probably have lots of gifts under the tree.  And how sad for the kids, who know Mom and Dad don’t have the cash to buy even a small gift, and feeling guilty for wanting something they can’t—or shouldn’t—have.

This is our fourth year in the Adopt-a-Family program, and it makes me giddy to make another mom—and her children—happy during a time of year that might not have been so joyous in the past.  I hope this year they assign me a family with younger children so I can pick out some of the gifts myself.  Families with older children request gift cards so they can shop for their own gifts.  It’s nice to give the parents gift cards so they can select the gifts for their own children and feel the joy, ownership, fulfillment and responsibility it brings.

In years past, the teens in my adopted families wanted simple things like gas money, toiletries such as body wash and movie tickets. Last year one teenager asked for a gift card for JoAnn’s—a girl after my own heart!  Their parents asked for gas money and gift cards for the local discount supermarket.  It breaks my heart that these simple things are the “wants” of local impoverished families, and makes me wonder if I take everything good in my life for granted.  Do I?  I don’t think so… But maybe I should work to appreciate it even more.

The bench looks a lot smaller when Nathan’s sitting on it. It’s important to have different perspectives.
If anyone out there wants to make a difference for a less-fortunate family this holiday season, consider the Bucks County Opportunity Council’s Adopt-a-Family program.  I’m starting to feel warm and fuzzy already.

Bucks County Opportunity Council:

Adopt-a-Family contact: Joanne Burgess, 215-345-8175 x209.

1 comment:

  1. first time here....u have started a beautiful blog....ur son is soooooo son is one year elder to yours....he is nov12,2008 born....u must be plannin his first birthday...its good to "meet" u.


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