Scott Jenkins column: This Christmas, give if you can
I have the memory of being a child, standing with my younger brother in a dark parking lot, in the cold, while my mother waited in line at the back of a tractor-trailer. When her turn came at the front of the line, a man inside the trailer handed my mother two toys.
One toy for my brother, one for me. That was our Christmas. And we were thankful to have it.
It wasn’t that way every year — Mom worked at whatever job she could find, but those jobs typically didn’t pay much — but, yes, we were poor. So poor that our church once gave us a pounding, and if you ever attended a country church, you know that doesn’t mean the congregation got violent with us.
I write this not to gin up sympathy for myself, but to remind you one more time, in one more place, that people in our community need help.
Finances can be especially difficult for families at this time of year, when the air is getting colder and many parents are worried about how they’re going to heat the house, much less put presents under the Christmas tree.
Maybe they’re people you know, maybe they’re strangers. Either way, they’re our neighbors, or the children of our neighbors.
And there are ways we can all help.
The Post recently ran a series of articles on the Rowan County Christmas Bureau, a joining together of five local programs, each of which has existed for years, or decades, to make the Christmas season brighter for less-fortunate local families and whose leaders believed they could do an even better job as a team.
Those programs are Christmas Happiness, the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree, Toys for Tots, Project Santa and Operation Santa. They’re taking applications for assistance today from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. and Dec. 6 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the J.F. Hurley YMCA, 828 Jake Alexander Blvd. W.
Helping to fulfill the requests on those applications is where we can get involved. It takes resources, and while none of us may have a lot, if we all give a little, it adds up, and that can mean the difference between a child having something or nothing this Christmas.
I hold on tightly to memories from my childhood, like the memory of that parking lot, that cold night, those toys. Those memories are gifts. These days, I try to give what I can when I can — not that going into journalism sets you up to be a world-class philanthropist, but I know my circumstances are a heck of a lot better than many others’.
So I give out of thankfulness — that I don’t have to worry about whether I can put food on the table or heat the house, and I don’t have to stand in line for my son’s Christmas gifts. If I did, I would swallow my pride and do it, like other parents do. Like my mother did.
If your life is going well enough to be thankful for it, consider expressing that by dropping a dollar in the Salvation Army kettle, or some change, if that’s all you have. Give a toy to Toys for Tots. Take a child’s name from the Angel Tree. Write a check to the Christmas Happiness fund.
It will be appreciated. Take it from someone who knows.
Scott Jenkins is news editor of the Salisbury Post.