Tuesday, December 18, 2007
I have mentioned the Union Gospel Mission on this blog many times. I believe wholeheartedly in the work that they do. UGM has proven to be a valuable community resource that reaches out to thousands. Today, the impact of this incredible work that the organization does was right in front of me. The meaningful contribution that they make to people in need is heart warming, to say the least. There are no words to express the plethora of thoughts and feelings that came to the surface for me today. I spent the afternoon volunteering in their warehouse with a group of my co-workers. We organized and packed boxes of food and chose presents and put together gift baskets for specific families in need. When the families, and mothers or fathers arrived to pick up their hampers, with tears in their eyes, all hugs and thank yous, it really put things into perspective. All of the gifts are donated-brand new toys, books, games and clothes, toiletries and food. Scarves, hats, mitts, socks, jackets, new runners.
What I was part of today is something that has a real impact on people's lives.
The smiles on the kids faces when I handed them juice boxes and granola bars while they were in the waiting room with their mothers, were priceless. The excitement I felt when I found a size 10 pair of runners-the last pair-for a single father of three standing before me, wearing orthotics and shoes with holes in them, was unreal. The fact that these families will now have full bellies and presents to open on Christmas morning is just as it should be.
"These people have names. These people have families. These people have hearts, and unless you come face to face with them and understand where they are coming from, it is really hard to conceive whom they are. These are people..."
I think that's what can be forgotten. Keira posted an entry last week in which she described the way that people can be painted with one brush. She wrote, "They are generalized; they are one face..." How true. Working there today amongst the faces and stories of so many of these individuals, gratefully accepting more than they ever imagined receiving this Christmas, was truly something special. Being the emotional creature that I am, I fought tears several times while interacting with the families. Seeing the difference that UGM makes first hand gave me a clarity impossible to describe. The sincere gratitude and warm hugs I experienced on the part of those being reached out to was worth more than anything in the universe.
UGM is able to bring hope and help to a handful of our city's less fortunate. For ways that you can give this holiday season, click here.