One of my students and his family lost everything they own in a fire about 2 weeks ago. The moment we found out, we went into action. We told his classmates, discussed fundraising with the 6th grade community his younger brother belongs to, and made an announcement to the school. That was a week ago. I came up for air yesterday. Twenty-seven bags of clothing, groceries, and Christmas gifts, 5 Walmart gift cards, and a check for more than $1300 later, we reflected on our good deed. I thought I’d share some of the conversations I had during the week.
The mother of a 6th grader who has been in classes with the younger brother since second grade told me this story as she handed her son a wad of money to add to the ugly Christmas sweater campaign:
He told me to take any money I had left to get him Christmas gifts and give it to the family. He said he found out what size shoes ____ wears and will be bringing some shoes in to see if they fit. He wanted me to ask you if we will take donations from his church youth group.
I said yes.
One of my advisory class students, upon hearing what happened, insisted we double down on our Penny War that was in session (we were going to buy chickens and ducks for a family farm in Africa), and give all the money to the family.
OK people, the nice family in Africa can wait til January! We need to put some pennies in the jars, we need to bomb the heck outta each other! We need to make some money!
We raised $108.43. By the way, the affected student sits next to our cheerleader in class. He cried like a baby when we told him we how much we loved him.
Another parent called me, 4 times, checking clothing sizes for mom and dad, asking if there were any babies displaced, etc. I was called down last Friday to collect what she brought.
Mrs. Stone, my mother and I went through the closets, called all the neighbors and put in a prayer request at church. This is all I could come up with. Oh, and here’s a Walmart gift card from mom.
“All she came up with” was 15 bags of clothing, pots and pans, dishes,flatware, and assorted toys.
Yet another bag came in from a parent we KNEW couldn’t afford to help. Her note said simply
They will need to eat.
It was full of dry goods. This mom is battling cancer right now. Her son said she insisted. I bought him lunch that day.
Teachers brought bags of clothing and Christmas stockings stuffed with goodies. Someone in the building put a crisp, new $100 bill in my mail box. One teacher even spent her lunch period wandering around the student cafeteria with a bucket, ‘forcing” the high schoolers to “drop some money”.
The Key Club donated from their annual Santa Shoppe proceeds, $200. The band donated $200 from their Christmas concert because ______ is the best drummer on the planet. I bought 2 bags of dog food for “Charlie”.
We noticed something as we did all of this. The two boys affected, are quiet, respectful, not particularly outgoing. After seeing their classmates, teachers, and the school love them to death the way we did, they started smiling, and thanking people and speaking up more and being part of the group. A good thing, a very good thing.
It seems, almost every year at this time, something happens to someone out there. Just a little bit of love helps them get through it and rebuild. I hope we were able to love them the way they needed to be loved.
Friday, as I stood outside with the boys, they told me of a new setback: to add insult to injury in all of this, mom’s car has stopped working. They would have to walk home with the toys we wrapped for them. I hoped they’d get home without getting jumped by the knuckleheads out there. I slid the check into my student’s back pack and told him to hand it to mom as soon as he got home. When I called later to make sure she received it, she cried and told me about the car and how thankful she is to all of us for being angels in their time of need. I’m crying now just thinking about that.
There’s nothing in any book, project, program, initiative or professional development session that can ever prepare you for being that angel. The lesson learned by the boys and our students is one that hopefully, will follow them as they go through life. Showing just a bit of love… does wonders for us all.
Have a great Holiday Season everyone. Go love someone.