The Christmas Bureau—The Rest of the Story!

As my friend shared her story of the miracles which happened the Christmas Willard received his red vest, my heart began to fill with hope. God had worked and continues to work so many miracles if we only open our eyes to see them. The rest of my friend’s story not only shows how God’s hand works when least expected, but also how necessary it is to hold onto hope despite daunting circumstances.

“And then there were the twin girls who asked for twin strollers for their dollies (and the dollies, too). No way could we do that. I went to lunch a week before Christmas and came back and at the door of my office was a twin stroller with a lovely dolly in each and a note attached — ‘I saw this in the store today and thought you might know a child who would like it. It was so cute. And, of course, I had to put dolls in it. Merry Christmas!’ No name was signed.

And then, to top it off, Christmas Eve when everything had been handed out and all was done, I asked the treasurer how we were doing and she said “We have $11,000.00.” I felt my heart sink — how would that pay for everything we’d done? I knew that wouldn’t cover the food bill (we gave a turkey and all the trimmings and chocolate and cookies and goodies for Christmas) and she laughed and said — “All the bills are paid. The debt is paid. All those speaking engagements, all the publicity paid off in spades! We’re rich!”

That year we helped 237 families with Christmas dinner and gifts that they had asked for. And that was the only year we had to triage the numbers — (over 500 had applied). At the height of the 80’s recession we helped 735 families and never lacked for money one time. The food became almost a week’s worth, the gifts were more elaborate and plentiful, and I never, ever had to think of money again.

And from the Christmas Bureau came our little Interfaith Thrift Shop because I kept seeing all these children without coats and boots and mittens and proper clothing and there were only so many people I could call on for such things, so we started a shop that was clean and pretty and we charged small amounts for donated clothing and our goal was to be able to buy two pairs of shoes a month for poor children. By the end of the first month in business we could buy dozens of school shoes and the first year we made over $50,000.00 in pure profit which we could use to help with all sorts of things including dental care etc.

So many people were against the thrift shop — the reasoning went thusly – ‘If the town could support a thrift shop then Salvation Army or Good will would be here so there’s no point.’ And when we plowed on anyway then a couple ministers gave us flack and said we shouldn’t be selling the clothing but giving it away and we said, no, we would sell to anyone and the money would then be used to buy for children who had no resources and it worked so well that the lesson we took away from that was that the common wisdom is not necessarily wisdom at all and to plow on if you think you’re doing the right thing. You’ll find out soon enough if you’re not.”

I thank my dear friend for sharing these stories with me to share with my readers. I hope you have been as touched and blessed as I have been by this true testament of God’s unfailing love.

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