Like many, I’ve always had an affinity for the work of The Salvation Army, especially at Christmas. Some of it I attribute to nostalgia, having seen the iconic kettles and bell-ringers in all of my favorite old Christmas movies. The rest I contribute to having heard about the work The Salvation Army does in the community.
While I’ve supported The Salvation Army in the past, by either dropping a few dollars in a kettle or adopting an angel from the Angel Tree, I have a new appreciation for the organization’s impact this year.
It started about 12 weeks ago, when I stepped into a new role handling PR and communications for The Salvation Army of Greater Charlotte. I’ve met some amazing people in this short time - people who have a passion for sharing the love of God in a tangible way and helping people when they need it most. These are people who don’t like to talk about making a difference; they just like to do it. Many of them were on hand last week when the Salvation Army Christmas Center officially opened to the families in need who had registered for assistance this Christmas season.
In the build up to this event, it was easy to get lost in the numbers – more than 6,000 families; more than 11,000 children. In the process, you can easily forget that these are individuals, each with their own story, and each a beloved child of God.
I had the opportunity to spend some time on the opening day of toy distribution walking families to their cars after receiving gifts so generously provided by the community. I knew that these shopping carts full of toys and bicycles would equate to happy Christmas mornings for special children going through particularly hard times.
But, as I walked one lady to her car, I could sense this was about so much more than toys. She was smiling from ear to ear, and she had tears in her eyes. She asked if she could take a picture with me, she hugged me and just simply said, “Thank you.”
Being able to provide a Christmas for her children, something most of us take for granted, meant more to her than we can imagine. This shopping cart wasn’t just full of toys. It was full of hope, and that’s what Christmas is all about.