Christmas with Dignity
Imagine this scenario:
It’s Christmas Eve. A well meaning group of volunteers gather at the door of the home of a family in need. This group is so excited because they have chosen and wrapped each gift and even already labeled the gifts with the names of the children. They feel so blessed to have the opportunity give to others and feel really good about helping this family. They ring the doorbell.
The Mother of the family reluctantly but quickly answers the door. She doesn’t want her husband to feel worse about his lack of a job and she just can’t let the children see. She’s grateful because she did not know how they would ever give to their kids for Christmas, but what they truly need is something that cannot be wrapped in wrapping paper.
She’s rather embarrassed of her home, but she knows she can’t act unappreciative and she invites the group to place the presents just inside the door. She says thank you and smiles appreciatively. The group offer hugs and even prays with her, but the whole time she feels unworthy. She knows she should feel joy, but instead she feels worse knowing that she couldn’t even choose her own child’s gift. After a short visit, the group of volunteers head out to have dinner together feeling good about how they have helped.
Later that evening…Even though the Mother tried hard to conceal the gifts that the group brought the Father sees her hiding them under the bed. He thinks, “There is no way my wife could ever respect me now. I can’t even provide Christmas for my children.” Feeling worthless the Father grabs a drink to help numb his feelings of worthlessness. This is the catalyst for another fight that stems from hurt and pain. It’s Christmas Eve and the Dad finds himself slamming the door, leaving the house and walking along the road.
A well meaning group, pure intentions, seeking to only live out their faith and bring hope actually brought the opposite. The family feels as if their dignity is gone and feel even more hopeless than before.
So often, when we seek to help others we can actually do more harm than good. This story is an adaptation from the book Toxic Charity by Bob Lupton. True mission is not about how it makes us feel, but should be about how the recipient feels.
It is out of this mindset that Main Street Mission created our Christmas with Dignity store. CWD is a Christmas store for those that are facing hard economic challenges and allows them to purchase gifts at prices they can afford, BUT it also does so much more!
CWD allows children to see their parents as providers and because of this family is strengthened. CWD also allows parents to have the opportunity to choose gifts themselves for their family members and restores a sense of dignity for the family. This approach to Christmas giving is not a handout, but a hand up.
We know the greatest gift you can give a child is not the toy under the tree, but it IS a strong family and parents that feel dignified about the way they are providing for their family.
We are excited that HOPE Academy has the opportunity to serve in this way and partner with Main Street Missions.
This post was written by Hope Oliphant, HOPE Academy parent and Community Outreach Advocate and Director of the Bridges Builders Initiative for Main Street Mission.