Did your family ever volunteer with a charity such as a soup kitchen, homeless or battered women’s shelter during the holidays? Or perhaps were your ancestors involved with church groups that assisted others during the holiday?
We had our various ways of contributing to causes that assisted those less fortunate than we were doing the holidays when I was growing up.
Every year, a month or so before Christmas, Mama would work with the two of us girls to donate our old toys to the local fire department. There they would be recycled by being cleaned spotless and made to look brand new again, and on Christmas Santa would deliver them to some child who would otherwise not have received anything beneath their tree. I can remember our car being filled to the brim [back seat and trunk], as we would make the trek to fire department, a few blocks from our home. The firemen were always so appreciative of our efforts. I remember one year when one of the men asked how many families we had collected from for the drive. He was amazed when my sister and I replied that they all came from our own collection of toys. [I’m sure he thought we were a spoiled couple of little girls! And he’d have been right!]
Then we had the grocery collections. Mostly canned or boxed goods [non-perishables]. Even after we moved to the country in 1973 Mama made sure we continued this work each Christmas. I have since volunteered, several years to also help package these donations up for families and helped to deliver them. We usually have a large box filled to overflowing for each family. These are just grocery stuffs: macaroni & cheese, stuffing, green beans, coffee, cereal, etc. Some years we are lucky enough to get small turkeys or canned hams donated as well! And there are always boxes included of toys for the families with children.
I can imagine how my ancestors may have helped those in need during the holidays, with grocery stuff. All of my ancestors lived in rural communities, so I can imagine they donated such things as bags of apples, a cured ham, jars of canned goods, maybe some eggs. I don’t know that they participated in these things, but I’d sure like to think they were compassionate enough that when the need arose, they met the challenge!
I continue to donate during the holidays, and I hope others do as well. What a wonderful tradition to pass down to our own children and grandchildren! I was recently reminded of an appropriate song….”Reach out and touch, Somebody’s hand, Make this world a better place, If you can!”