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Do you still feel the warmth from the ripples you helped to create exactly 5 months ago today?

January 30, 2014

“Give, and it will be given to you… For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

 

Do you remember the stress that was mounting six weeks ago? Do you remember looking forward to the post Christmas chaos?  Now as you are huddled in as a hermit hiding from the brutal cold once again it seems so very long ago!

 

I am only one of countless who felt the strain of the chaos of the days as they flew by at the speed of light and only one of many who became numb to what the reason for the season was and what the purpose of the presents, or presence, was supposed to be.  It should have been and should always be about strengthening relationships and meeting needs, but with the chaos and the strain it is often so hard to remain focused.  Our needs were met with the most unapologetic meager gift presentation and wrapping possible:  wrapped in a worn blanket and laid on straw in a barn.  Have you received that gift?  Did you get the chance to stop and ponder the calm and unassuming manor in which this greatest gift was offered?

 

How did your sanity hold as you tried to hold tight to your horse’s reigns on the Merry-go-Round of Christmas demands:  dinners, gifts, family/friend/work gatherings, lists of needs and wants, then finding time and effort to take the time to do the “right thing” and help others.  How did you define a need and a want?  What was on your list?  Do you get those items?  Was your Christmas better because of them?  10, 12, 15 years from now will you remember what you gave or received? It is a fact that people remember and cherish actions and relationships greater than material items.  I felt challenged every time I read the expression:  “Give presence, not presents.”  Am I giving what is needed to those I love?

 

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I tend to slide into the reflexive going through the motions to complete tasks leading up to “the day”.  For me the culmination of supplying families within our arm’s reach with Thanksgiving Food and then fully prepared Christmas Dinners & Care Boxes (stuffed full of much needed and hard to afford cleaning products and personal care items) on Christmas Day cannot come soon enough.  Going through the motions often leaves one deficient in the thrill of emotions and one misses out on the enriching gift of building and strengthening relationships.  I keep working, keep moving, keep focusing on the completion of the task at hand and often miss the inspiration for it all.  Did you find yourself doing the same?  My dad taught me better than that and my other Father solidifies those lessons with subtle reminders sprinkled through the days.  Like these:

 

“Would you like to offer a donation to Hope and Friendship?”  I was in a hurry and trying to zoom through the check out at our Lemont Jewel.  I chuckled.  “I do donate to Hope and Friendship.”   She looked at me as if she understood that I truly was/am as loopy as I appeared.  “I started Hope and Friendship in 2005 and very much appreciate the support that you and Jewel has and is offering!

Then she looked at me and said “Hope and Friendship helped my family when we were experiencing a very difficult year.  They helped us by offering us Thanksgiving and Christmas Dinners.” 

It was as if I was taken by a 300lb linebacker and plowed to the ground taking my breath away.  I was immediately humbled and embarrassed not to know her. 

I told her I was glad that we were able to offer that meal and assistance to her family and that they accepted that gift, then I thanked her for sharing that with me.  I walked away and realized my task-oriented mission was missing something.  I missed meeting her when they were in need.  I missed connecting with a friend in need by simply completing a task at hand. We met a need, yes, but I failed to meet them at their time of need and reach out for more than just the day. 

 

I immediately said a prayer of thanks for being enlightened once again that I need to suck it up, stop sniveling about the work and long hours of the task and remember the purpose: see, hear and learn of the need and move everyone you can to help meet the needs. 

 

(Side note:  Your generosity and Jewel, Lemont’s commitment to help, gifted those in need in our home town with 67 Thanksgiving Dinner Boxes and 79 Christmas Dinner Boxes.  Meat, potatoes, side dish and rolls gifted because you offered a dollar or a few at the checkout when they asked you to help someone in need in your community.   What an absolute blessing you and Jewel bestowed!)

 

“I would love to receive a Christmas Dinner, if you have enough.  I would like to invite my neighbors to a Christmas Dinner but couldn’t afford to supply the food.” This unpretentious request was from four of our seniors who live in a self-supportive senior living community, or on their own on very tight budgets.   What a blessing that would be for all of those who live every day alone to spend the ultimate gathering day with friends feeling a sense of community, rather than feeling forgotten or alone.  

 

Two deaths and a life threatening battle occurred in homes within our arm’s reach in the days preceding Christmas.  The battle between life and death and the loss of a loved one is always earthshattering at any time of year, but now????  How could that happen?  You could be in the best financial situation possible.  Have it all (according to the checklist of the world) yet feel broke when you walk this path.  A meal cooked and unconditionally offered fills a need that wasn’t present the day before the world came crashing down.

 

She’s working two jobs.  Worked on Thanksgiving and Christmas mornings.  Single mom.  Widow.  Struggling just to keep day to day food on the table.   Do you think a plentiful Christmas Dinner would be appreciated?  Well it was and was the one thing that did not keep her up at night worrying.  We got this, and we’ll fill the table.  You have enough on your plate. 

 

Just 5 months ago today you helped to meet these and 74 other home’s basic needs by offering the most simple, incredible generous and compassionate gift of love offered in the camouflage of a fully cooked Christmas Dinner wrapped with your own touch of preparing it and presenting it.  We cooked, we gathered, we sorted, we delivered, and we spread Christmas love, support and spirit to 79 homes here in our corner of the world that is still being felt today!  The fun, the warmth of us working together, the contagiousness of the great and wonderful feelings we felt as Christmas Day approached and for all of us who were blessed to bond and work side by side committing this action and bequeathing this gift of a care box and fully cooked dinner seems like it was so long ago!  (And to think we thought the 29 degree Christmas Day was chilly!!!)

 

I purposely waited to write this thank you until today.  I wanted to remind you in the darkness and frustration of the winter days when Christmas items had already been cleared out of the room and out of the stores of the great and wonderful act of love that you committed and the feelings it generated within you.  The realization of those needs moved you, then, the warmth of the season encouraged you to take action.  Those needs warranted your attention, time, and generosity at Christmas and hopefully you will allow what moved you at Christmas to move you to see the same needs, the same crisis situations, the same pain of losses that occur at Christmas also occur around you throughout the year and are just as worthy of your time, effort and generosity now.  You can keep the healing, loving, generous Christmas Spirit ripples reaching those in need.. 

 

Thank you to the churches, the groups & organizations, the countless kind and wonderful volunteers and donors who made it a line item on their Christmas “to do” list to donate items and funds, cooked food and offered the necessities, offered time, hands, feet and hearts to make this extreme act of kindness happen.

 

Thank you to the Lemont Township for allowing Hope and Friendship Foundation to transform their office building on Warner to the Hope and Friendship Foundation Christmas Care Box & Dinner headquarters from Dec 20th-Dec 25th.  This is a very time and space consuming task and we were once again blessed to spread out, create, work with our elbows by being able to use the Township Office space. 

 

And once again, for the 9th straight year, we were blessed with just the right number of volunteers, drivers, and clean up crew as well as with great weather and we were able to again spill outside to sort our 79 boxes of Care Items and prepared food (we’ll just consider that one of those “Christmas Miracles”, and give thanks appropriately, similar to when we have been short on an item and in the door walks a friend loaded down with the item we are short) allowing for those who were assisting in delivering to easily pull up, load and play Santa and be the beautiful working, walking, giving angels that brought Christmas love to all of those homes! 

 

I was inundated with calls, emails, Facebook posts and messages, from not only those that received and were so grateful for the amazing gift of Christmas Dinner & Care Box, but also from those who were walking a bit lighter and happier because they were a part of this amazing and exhilarating event that nurtured that explosive, transferable and infectious inner Christmas Spirit that made so many grateful that they spent time, effort and offered hands, feet and donations to make so many homes feel the same infectious Christmas Spirit!  

 

Have you keep that amazing feeling of Christmas love and giving burning and working inside of you throughout this year so far?  If you are looking for ways to do that I can help!!! J

 

On Saturday February 15th we will once again gather and created sack lunches filled with love,  “Warm a Heart, Lift a Spirit- Sack lunches made with love”.  We will need bread; lunch meat; cheese; peanut butter/jelly; plastic sandwich bags; lunch size bags of chips, pretzels; healthy lunch snacks:  granola bars, breakfast bars, cookies, brownies, snacks that will keep a stomach from grumbling; cases of water bottles; $5 gift cards to McDonalds, Burger King or Subway; and most importantly- positive notes of inspiration and kindness.   Last year I raised the goal to creating 500 lunches so that we could bless both homeless shelters in Joliet (Daybreak and Morningstar Mission) with lunches for their clients, and we blessed the Lemont Township Seniors who dine at the Community Center for the CNN lunches every day, and the seniors at the Mother Teresa Home- St. Francis Home.   Every one of the 500 lunches was gifted and enthusiastically received!

 

Also can you help round up dress clothing and Prom Dresses for the 7th “Give that Dress Another Night Out” Event on Saturday March 1st?   We especially could use the poofy Prom Dresses!!  For the past 6 years we have helped put Prom Dresses on young ladies who would’ve otherwise not been able to feel like Cinderella as you have permitted them to feel!  We also collect and offer dress clothing for children, women and men.  All dresses, suits, shoes, purses, etc.  It’s a dress clothing extravaganza!!  Help us put dress clothing on kids, teens, women and men here in our community (and shared way outside of our boundaries as well!) by donating or volunteering to set up or help on event day.

 

Mission Stay Saturdays have blessed so many seniors, homebound, financially strained and physically challenged friends by  helping them with lawn work, trimming, weeding, and small home repairs.  We gather on Saturdays in June, July and August and then for a special Fall Mission Stay Saturday in September. 

 

Assisting with needs 24/7/365 for friends in crisis by offering what you can, when you can and how you can. 

 

Keep up with these and other events and join us in our mission to meet needs right here within our arm’s reach helping others to rise to be able to join in making these amazing ripples! 

 

We have the ability to make a difference in the homes of person’s within our arm’s reach who are experiencing life changing and challenging situations that they can only ride through with the help of a friend.  We have the ability to unite and be that group of friends.  Please consider joining me throughout the year committing simple yet significant acts of kindness and giving (most often giving of items that are simply put- in the corners of your home!) that can and will aid a friend. 

 

Wishing you peace, love and a most blessed, bountiful and wonderful year! 

 

Terri xoxoxo

 

 

Hope and Friendship Foundation

 

721 Hickory St, Lemont, IL  60439

 

www.hopeandfriendshipfoundation.com

 

hopeandfriendship@comcast.net

 

630-816-4972

 

 

 

Luke 6:38 –

 

“Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

 

Philippians 2:4 –

 

“Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

 

Matthew 25:35-40

 

‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? ‘And when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ “And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

 

Proverbs 22:9

 

“He who is generous will be blessed, For he gives some of his food to the poor.”

 

Galatians 6:2 –

 

“Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”

 

 

 

 

 

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