August 17, 2011
READY… “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” ~ Matthew 25:40 NIV
AIM… I was given an opportunity to serve in an incredible way last week. My friend is the assistant program director for the United Way in our area. One of its most successful and meaningful programs is called Lace Up For Kids. It’s possible because the United Way receives donations from Wendy’s, a local TV station, and other private donors; in turn, they use the money to purchase new shoes for children who need them and whose families cannot afford them. What better way to give children a positive self-image than to start them off with brand new, fancy shoes?
I must admit, I had never been to the Catholic Charities Neighborhood Center, where they were doing the shoe fitting and distribution. As I approached the center, wearing my clean clothes and fresh deodorant, I started sensing the defensive posture of the people hanging around outside the door. I simply smiled and said “Good Morning” to a few of them who probably wondered why I was even speaking to them. My motive…to be positive and make one of them feel better about herself that day.
Once inside, I realized I came while folks were finishing up breakfast. It was a sight I was not prepared for. I didn’t know that this location offered a hot breakfast to anyone everyday; no questions asked. As I looked around the dining room, I saw a few elderly men cleaning up plates and heading toward the dish return; I saw a young, single man eating the rest of his breakfast alone; I saw a mother feeding her baby in a highchair. It saddened my heart to see the reality of our world in so many generations at one location. However, I was quickly overjoyed with the realization that these people DO have a place to come where they can get a hot meal twice a day and are given the other necessities they need to get by day to day. The assistant director at Catholic Charities Center gave my friend and me a tour of their facility and I was overwhelmed by the wonderful way they continue to serve our brothers and sisters in need.
After I composed myself, I was able to assist several families with fitting their children with new shoes. What joy and smiles I got to see on the faces of the little girls who tried on the sparkly new pink Sketchers or the confidence in the boys’ attitudes as they felt cool in their new Nike high tops. We were able to empathize with the grateful parents who have a hard time keeping their growing children in shoes that fit properly. No matter our economic situation, we can all relate to our kids growing feet.
I walked away feeling so good about helping my brothers and sisters. I was able to be the hands and heart of Jesus that day. I know I was moved and changed in ways that will benefit my life for years to come. I am truly blessed beyond measure and am eternally grateful for the favor I have been granted. Yes, even the small things, such as sparkly new shoes and fresh deoderant make me thankful.
FIRE! Do something to help others in need this week. Maybe you can purchase extra school supplies while they are on sale to help a family get their kids started off on the right track, or anonymously leave a bag of groceries on the front step of a family who needs an extra meal. As Jesus told us, helping those in need is indeed helping Him.