Released 5 December 2013
Daily this job offers
opportunities to witness acts of heartbreaking sadness, unbelievable courage
and a sense of hope that is tangible.
Many families come to The Salvation Army looking for help. They start out shy and tough and within
minutes of our staff's compassionate care, the person melts into trusting us
and many times breaks down from the weight of their challenges. That is when the real change begins to take
place. That is when they need hope.
Our first priority is
to meet our client's basic human needs and then to discover how we can work
with them to move them from dependency to economic self sufficiency. One of the programs that The Salvation Army
is well known for is the Christmas Assistance program. This program helps families
receive Christmas gifts and food to brighten there holiday season.
There is an off shoot
of this program called Sponsored Family. This program is for families we find
through our interview process to be in desperate circumstances and in need of additional,
extra special help. Then we locate another family, a company, a church group or
a school club that wants to adopt or "Sponsor" the family in need. A wish list is gathered during the interview
process from the family and is presented to the adopting group who then purchases
the gifts. We arrange a drop off time for the group and a separate, distinct
pickup time for the family. This way the process keeps both the donor and
recipients information private and confidential, protecting both the donor and
the family receiving the gifts.
This year one Sponsored
family story stirred me to tears. A man
came to us with a remarkably heavy heart.
His wife and the mother of their four children passed away this summer after
a brief illness. He and his family are
grieving this tremendous loss, but are trying to move forward and find their
way. The father wants to give his
children as ‘normal' a Christmas as possible, but over the past 17 years, his
wife took care of most of the holiday preparations, so memories of her are
attached to everything about Christmas. Because of these heart-wrenching,
exceptional circumstances, we matched this family to a local business looking
to for a Sponsorship opportunity. The family's wish lists are simple and very practical;
you can almost read into them that a toy is not fitting for a child who is
faced with grown-up challenges much too soon in life. Even still, I believe strongly in the
experience of play and the use of creative imagination to temporarily allow the
child to be joy-filled, no matter what sadness they deal with. I know from
speaking with many of our donors, they also are committed to helping children
have the beautiful experience of a Christmas gift. We cannot remove the hurt, but working in
partnership with companies and individuals, we can lift someone's heart to what
is beautiful, good, pure and joyful.
Another story to
share is of a local attorney who has taken on the role of coordinating a huge
toy drive to benefit The Salvation Army Toy Shop. For the past 4 years, this attorney calls
upon is family, friends and colleagues to donate a toy for a child. I'm thrilled to learn how much happiness it
brings to this group to be able to share their blessings. Their generous hearts are rewarded with all
the fun they have shopping, choosing, even sometimes gently playing with and
then piling the gifts under the company's tree, knowing those same toys will
brighten a child's face on Christmas morning, given to them through The
Salvation Army's Toy Shop.
Families who need a
helping hand to put toys under the tree on Christmas Day can come to The
Salvation Army Toy Shop. We take applications during the month of November and
parents are given an appointment time to come back during the second week of
December. We work as part of the Western New York Holiday Partnership, receiving
toys from the News Neediest Fund, Toys for Tots as well as toys we gather
independently through our Angel Tree and from generous donors like the lawyer
Operating as a walk-through shopping experience, parents walk through the toy
shop with a volunteer assistant and hand pick toys for their children as if
they were in a toy store. All the toys are separated by age group and gender to
make it easier for the parents to find the appropriate toys for each child.
We hope that through
this important program, every child has a toy under the tree and a smile on
their face on Christmas Day!
If you would like to
volunteer for any of these programs, please call our Volunteer Coordinator,
Andrea Glinski at (716) 883-9800 x220 or email her at email@example.com. Or
if you would like to learn how your company or family can become a sponsor to
one of our special families, please contact Allison Betti at (716)883-9800 x237
or email her at Allison.firstname.lastname@example.org.