Monday, September 16, 2019

Tis the Season

Shoeboxes filled with goodies. Submitted

Shoeboxes filled with goodies. Submitted

By Hillary Braden

Never had the Christmas experience been more real for our small family. After living as a faithless person, I had given up on so many things. Unfortunately, with four young children Christmas was never an option; until it needed to be cancelled.

I had hit a very difficult time, unaware of the importance of normality in a child’s life. With no money, pending a house loss, and a sick family member, Christmas was cancelled. Our season was dull to say the least. As a parent, feeling like failure was unavoidable. Food & lights were far more pressing than toys or a tree even. As the days were counted down, my children being as understanding as they possibly could, didn’t complain. It was the first time I realized how grown up children could be. They never should be though.

So, when the brown box was delivered to my door step, I was shocked. I had not asked, we don’t take handouts in our family. The children had not even known we were going without for the holiday. However, the unsung heroes of the public school system had deemed us deserving.

More special than the fact that we got something to unwrap on Christmas day, was what we were given. Shamefully I was not touched with the reason for the season. Not until we opened each gift. In a world which has ever changing wants and whims, the gifts that came in the big box were unknowingly perfect! Even Santa himself, would have had a hard time delivering perfection such as this.

There was a pop-up book, which was given to my mother who collects them. A helicopter for the 8 yr old who decided he wanted to be a pilot just weeks prior. The doll of her little princess dreams, and my little prince got exactly what he wanted, cars and lots of them. I know they were simple gifts. However, the joy, happiness, and comfort were anything but simple. The gifts were given to fill in the gaps, to help. I know they didn’t realize that box WAS our Christmas.

Every year Collier County Public Schools put together Christmas packages. Each school picks the families that are in need of a Christmas boost. They are always in need of donations. Many more worthy charities are available for you to help out in your community. Check with your local church, service group or favorite organization. A few are listed below:

  • Operation Christmas child – Many Local Churches are collecting needed items for the efforts of OCC. Items must fit in a shoe box and some hygiene items like combs, toothbrushes, deodorant are requested. The shoe boxes will be filled for Girls or Boys in the 2-4yrs, 5-9yrs or 10-14yrs age groups. For more information call Marco Presbyterian 239-394-8186.
  • East Naples Fire District – 239-775-8200 Collections for Toys for tots
  • Kiwanis Club of Marco Island – 239-389-1313
  • Collier County School Christmas project – 239-377-0351
  • Joy of Giving – Call Nicki Davis 239-269-8121
  • Bedtime Bundles – Call Karen Saeks 239-393-3415
  • Christmas Island Style – Call Steve Stefanides 239-250-8348
  • Marco Island Fire Department – Call for more information 239-389-5040
  • St. Matthew’s House – Needs assistance year-round 239-774-0200

In honor of the season Coastal Breeze News will add charitable giving opportunities to the list above. Remember, if you can’t give a monetary gift, volunteer hours are just as important. This list will be published in our 12/3 and 12/17 editions. Please fax information to 239-393-4992 to be added to the list.

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