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A time of needing ~ A time of giving

December 9, 2012

The emails, phone calls and face to face offers of assistance have been, to say the least, overwhelming.  I cannot keep up to respond back quick enough, partly because the whispers for help are just as many.


Isn’t it ironic that as this wonderful Christmas stretch crescendos so ebbs the work season for many of our friends who are employed in the careers of construction, outdoor laboring, road repair, and other “weather we’d like year round” occupations.  Just one ripple effect of those layoffs:  those who provide childcare for the “weather we’d like year round” work are also rationed to fewer hours, therefore earning less income.


At the most costly time of year when present buying, elaborate meal planning, heating bill increases as do food costs (with kids home for Christmas Break), many find their paychecks cut, unemployment assistance less than previous earnings, or more devastatingly, income becomes obsolete.


Your efforts to provide Christmas assistance in form of purchasing kids gifts, donating to crisis relief funding, or helping to supply a wonderfully cooked with TLC home delivered Christmas Dinner emulates to me a scene etched in the memories of most anyone that has turned on the TV on almost any day during the Christmas season.  The scene at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life” when George’s home is packed full with generous friends and well wishers who CARE to SHARE and provide assistance to him and his family in their time of need.   It’s a beautiful movie scene that holds you tight in your recliner instead of moving to the kitchen for that second scoop of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream.   A man who had it all:  good job, happily married, healthy kids, a home, and lived in a wonderful community.  Then the storm came.  We have many in our community who empathize with George and who also never ever thought they’d be dealing with “a life blow to the gut”:  laid off, have a child diagnosed with a critical illness, be diagnosed themselves, lose their spouse by way of death or parting, deal with a life blow that temporarily paralyzed them financially, physically and emotionally.


The whispers for help saddle me at times.  Two weeks ago I asked the “Man with the Plan” how are “we” supposed to help so many with what seems like so little resources.  Then the phone rang and a family that already was struggling with a laborer’s income and two of four kids in college had their income temporarily ceased when the father’s forefinger was severed during a home repair project.  Little did I know that the day I scheduled to meet with the mother was a day she was at her breaking point.  Helping her make a list of what it would take to sustain them through a month while her husband healed I noticed the mortgage was due that day.  She hadn’t slept.  She was trying to hold it together at home in the presence of her younger children.  She was able to release some of that emotion, fear and depression when we met.  Little did I know the answer to her prayers through the night, and my prayer for fuel for my fading fire, was about to present itself.

While collecting for the Thanksgiving Turkey give away I asked if you could sponsor a turkey for $15.  So many of you offered that and more.  So many offered donations and told me to use it for what needs became present.  We gave away 116 turkeys.  Some families that were rather large in numbers were blessed with two turkeys.  One donated by friends, and one of 18 shrink-wrapped smoked ones donated by Jewel Food Store.  Many generously donated side dishes and desserts accompanied those turkeys as well as cooking bags and cooking disposable aluminum pans. Just over $1500 was donated.  I purchased bags from IKEA and other needs for the Thanksgiving Deliveries and spent just less than $200.


She said with all of the “life blows” they had been pummeled with (injury to her back, the death of her in August, $1500 a month payments – post College Scholarships- costs for her two older children, she had that week sat in church at St. Al’s and asked God how much more they were expected to handle. Guess how much was needed on THAT day to help them cover their mortgage:   $1330.  I wrote a check for the mortgage from the Thanksgiving Donations and told her it was apparent to me that God was saying “hang on”.  This was not what she expected.  She came for advice and direction to focus on and she was given hope that this would not be the last straw for her family.  You provided that.  I was concerned about the imperative project that the husband was working on when the accident happened.  Finding out what was needed to complete it, I reached out to Pastor Dave of Community Christian Church in downtown Lemont.  He and his men’s group took care of that task that needed to be completed.  What a blessing this community provided to a struggling but surviving home who became temporarily crippled by “a life blow to the gut”. You have provided this relief for the past 7 years, whether by a meal, a bill paid, a donated piece of gently used furniture or appliance, a bed to a senior who had been sleeping on a cot, clothing, or monies that fund this and the other Hope and Friendship Foundation Activites/Events.


I am so very proud to be a witness to these acts of kindness and see helpful hands that offer support to someone doubled over from a “life blow to the gut”.  In the darkest storm you have multiple times provided the support in so many ways to help someone find their way through.


For the 8th year Hope and Friendship will provide a Christmas Dinner for homes in our community who could truly use that blessing.  Last year we delivered to 60 homes.  I know we will be delivering to over 80 homes this year.  This dinner is fully cooked, packed and delivered to friends by friends.  One neighborhood just south of Archer & State Street has a turkey deep frying Christmas Day Party.  Last year they provided 30 of our turkeys.  Right now Chipain’s is holding 30 turkeys and 30 hams for me.  I just have to come up with the funds to pay for them.  Peter Chipain has generously set them aside and is holding them in his freezer section knowing we WILL come up with the funds. The meat is just part of this meal- I need sides, veggie dishes, bread, potatoes, pastas, and of course desserts!!!  Anything that is on your table I will happily place a duplicate offering of that on the table of a home struggling to stand up.  I have homes of one and homes of eight.  Most of the homes are 4-5 persons (so if you could prepare sides, potatoes, pastas, veggies in plastic disposable containers portioned for that size you would be giving the gift of food and the containers!).   This will allow all of the volunteers, who will be assisting on Christmas Day, to help allocate the right amount of food for the household receiving a dinner. Each year we have provided this gift the family is eagerly anticipating a meal that they would have not otherwise been able to provide or enjoy.  The thank you’s, the gratitude expressed, the tears of shock and appreciation that those who deliver witness and that I receive after Christmas when those who received a dinner express their deepest thanks.  To some a meal doesn’t seem like much help, however, a meal sustains you in so many ways.  When that meal is one you couldn’t have prepared yourself and your family has been provided for by people you may never meet, you become overwhelmed with the feeling of having been graced by unconditional love.


“I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.  That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil- that is a gift of God.”  Ecc 3:12-13  And God has provided that gift of a Christmas Meal to those that toil through those do good and have had the ability, and resources, to gift it for the past 7 years via the friends of Hope and Friendship.  Thank you for considering to make this Christmas gift of giving better and greater than ever before.


Please email me to commit to donating prepared food to the dinner deliveries.  All food MUST be delivered to the Lemont Township Office (1115 Warner Ave, behind Chipains) by 1:00pm.  It can not be later because packing of the food will occur between 1:30-3:30 on Christmas Day and deliveries will begin promptly at 3:30.  Help is needed to pack and deliver.  Email me if you will be there between 1:30-3:30 to prepare the Christmas Meals  & Care Boxes, or at 3:30 to assist with the deliveries.  I will need people to volunteer to cook either a ham or turkey that is offered to me uncooked.  Please email me if you are willing to give the gift of your time and preparation of that donated Christmas meat.


Take a peek at the website and see how we tackled delivering to 80 homes for Thanksgiving  Looking forward to posting another video after Christmas to show you more hands and feet, more food gifted, and a Christmas giving experience that has everyone who participates (whether by providing the food or assistance to deliver the meals) walking a little lighter and happier knowing they participated in spreading some major Christmas Spirit, Grace and Goodwill!


Wishing you and your family love, peace, & a most blessed Christmas Season,



Terri O’Neill-Borders

Facebook:  Hope and Friendship Ministries

721 Hickory St, Lemont, 60439



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