Belinda Spillman once again is spearheading an Active Rain challenge, asking us to share ways we pay it forward. The idea behind this isn't for us to brag, but by sharing examples of ways we've found to make a difference, we might spark an idea in others, who will then implement their own way to add a bright spot in the life of another.
This is the 4th year my family and I have participated in San Francisco's Compass Family Services Adopt-a-Family program.
This year "our" family consists of a single mother, two daughters ages 13 and 10, and a baby boy, age 16 months. They live in one room in an apartment; they sleep on bunk beds. The mother's wish is for her daughters to continue to do well in school; she'd like to take them to visit the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. She would love to have a riding toy for her son, and could really use a toddler bed so he'd have his own bed. The girls enjoy art, reading, playing with their little brother. One likes red, one is a fan of purple. They like Chinese food. Their needs are winter jackets; wants include art supplies, basketball shoes, a Monster High doll.
Compass Family Services gives us clear guidelines of what should be purchased, and allows us to do what we see fit after meeting the minimums (3 gifts-$25 or less for each child; grocery store card for the family, $100 for a family of four; 1 gift for each adult.)
For the first time this year, we invited several San Francisco friends to join us. One couple brought art supplies, clothing for the little boy and joined our gift wrapping party, complete with food, bubbly, Christmas music, lights, laughter and fellowship. Frank and Gene diligently assembled the riding toy.
Another friend had a used toddler bed, mattress and linens. After checking, I was told yes, the family would very much like it; so we picked it up and Gene put it together. Also a first this year, I am in direct contact with the recipients, so we'll be delivering the bed, along with the other gifts to them next Saturday.
This family lives about one-half mile from us, yet worlds away. They are our neighbors, with the same wishes and aspirations of most of us.
Definitely my favorite part of the Christmas season, it's hard to say who benefits the most from this program, the recipients or us.