As I hopped into the seat of my mother’s old Ford car I noticed a larger than life black trash bag. The bag seemed to be taller than me and even my kindergarten eyes could tell that it was chock full of something interesting. Every time I touched it, my hand was pushed away and coupled with a light scolding from my mother. Of course, this made it way more attractive. Every time I would catch her looking the other way I would quickly touch it and try to imagine what the contents looked like.
When she was turning at a red light, I was able to conclude that one of the items was in fact a basketball or round ball of some sort.
Yep. It had to be toys.
I could feel the excitement grow as I completely fantasized about it being loaded down with toys. Then doubt started to creep in. We didn’t even own a basketball goal, why would we have a basketball? That larger-than-life black trash bag caused a rollercoaster of emotions that day.
That was the Christmas that my father spent in jail and it was also the Christmas that we had more toys than we knew what to do with.
It wasn’t until many years later that my mother shared with us that someone had donated toys to the jail for the inmates to give to their children. We always had small Christmases as children but my parents always made sure we had a gift and a stocking. She always said that we would not have had a Christmas at all that year if it were not for the kindness of strangers.
The older we get we truly understand that Christmas is a time to celebrate our Savior’s birth. That beautiful and amazing fact can be hard enough for adults to comprehend much less understood by a child who sees all of their classmates receiving gift upon gift for Christmas. If you know of a child in need this Christmas please reach out and offer help to the family. Locally, the Natchitoches Jaycees are hosting their Annual Toy Mash Friday and Saturday at Wal-Mart. If you know of a child whose parent is incarcerated, I can assure you that child needs some extra love this Christmas, please reach out to that family.
You are needed. You may think you do not have enough to give, but you do.
If you are looking to help on a larger scale you can contact prisonfellowship.org
According to the Angel Tree Prison Fellowship one in every forty-nine children have a parent who is incarcerated. That is at least one student per classroom and that is a staggering number. I was that child and I often wonder who gave to the jail in which my father was a resident for six months. Was it a church? Was it a civic organization? Was it a compassionate Sheriff’s Office employee? Whomever it was, I still think about their generosity today and I truly believe it instilled a giving spirit that will be handed down to my girls as well.
You may never get to meet the child that you help but maybe one day, forty some-odd years later, that child will write about how it forever changed Christmas for her and her siblings.
“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me…I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least these brothers of mine, you did for me.” – Mathew 25:36, 40