I wanted to give you all an update on how things are going with the Winter of Plenty support drive - just beautifully. The outpouring of support in foodstuffs and clothing has been just beyond expectation. But I wanted to share with you one story about something that happened this week that was surprising and wonderful and led to a whole new facet to the effort.
Some people have given dry goods, some fresh food, some cash, some gift cards, some pet supplies, some clothing, some books, a special thanks goes out to a certain person who took it upon themselves to do a collection at Women and Infants, and one young boy cleaned out his room of toys and stuffed animals.
This is a time of year in America where whether you celebrate Christmas or not, giving and gifts are much emphasized - especially for children. While the Winter of Plenty is a winter support drive, this boy's gift allowed us to touch this. Using a receipt coupon returned to ZSRI by one of the families who used a cash gift for supplies; I went out and got wrapping paper and tape. Then, with the help of one of our members, we sorted the toys to make sure that all of them were appropriate for any child 6 to 12 years of age. Next, I asked MCHA/OASIS for volunteers to take all the toys (and it was a lot, almost 15 pounds of small action figures and matchbox cars plus some beautiful stuffed monkeys) and sort them again - using their discretion to put two or three toys together to make a stocking stuffer and wrap them. They returned to me two big bags of wrapped gifts.
Those gifts I walked down to the rectory of St. Raymond's on North Main who was not only holding a full schedule of Christmas Eve and day masses, but also whose food pantry serves a large population. They will distribute them.
As wonderful as it was to have a donation become so large that it allowed three very different communities to come together in good will - it is what happened after that makes it all the more beautiful. The Winter of Plenty, and specifically this part of it, inspired not only the families we are helping but several in need who are being helped by what we give to the pantries and closets to look at their own lives and see what they had that they could give to add to the mix. Several of the families on food relief looked around and donated winter clothing they had. One of the families has designed a proposal to create a volunteer support effort inside one of the housing towers that they will run (we are working with them now to write up all the necessary plans and letters of support).
All in all, people are looking outward into 2013 as a year of change and letting go of the grief caused by their circumstances and seeing that there are options they can take that they can start themselves. This past year has been difficult for many for many reasons. It truly has been the end of a cycle in a very Mayan sense of the word. Now, we go forward - together.
In the best sense of the word - we are all together - through thick and thin.
Thank you all so much.