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Did you sense it? Did you hear it? Most importantly are you still experiencing the exhilaration of it?

December 31, 2014

The conception and facilitation of a simple yet powerful mission; the sounds of the enthusiasm and beautiful commotion of those who were engaging in the giving; the shock & disbelief, gasps, outpouring of fervent appreciation from the recipients; the warmth from the energy, compassion, and love that was unconditionally offered, culminated last Thursday at 6pm but I can attest to the fact that it is still undulating throughout our community and I hope those ripples and that same eagerness to reach our hands to our neighbors in need will reach far into 2015.

I began writing and appealing to you back in October asking you to join me in offering a gift, once again, on Christmas Day to those in our community who can honestly be known as those on the merry go round of life riding on what appear to be “defective horses”; the horse they have been placed on rides the rails forcing them to experience an disproportionate amounts of “downs” and a unfortunate few occurrences of “ups”. Lay offs, cut backs, company/business closures; vehicle breakdowns depleting resources; major health battles for self or child or both; an unexpected launch into single parenthood from abandonment, divorce or death of a spouse; the death of a child; loss of a home or the unavoidable approach of foreclosure looming; just plain hard luck and misfortune that has to happen to someone, and has happened to them.

I often feel helpless as I listen to my corner of the world. My days, are chockfull with stories of friends’ struggles, not that I at any moment want to hear one less, because I dearly love and appreciate being “that” friend to whom you come knowing I want and care to listen, but I truly would love to hear one less, maybe a few less every day, and hear instead celebration and praise stories for those who are well overdue a nugget of good fortune.
“Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” ~ Matt 25:37-40

When there is no control of bettering a situation: I simply cannot fix all that I wish I could, I have very little to offer but that what is within me.
Offer what you can: I can offer compassionate ears and then be an enthusiastic, rallying voice.
When you can with what we have to offer: I can only be a conduit from those who have the ability to meet simple needs offering “gifts” from surplus to meet some home’s voids only if I’m joined by those who care to make that happen.
Offering what we can, with what we have to offer, with as much as we are able; showing up, not ignoring and not judging when a neighbor is in a storm and offering something of yourself, your means, or your surplus that will aid them proving a proverbial umbrella.

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Whether you offered a side dish, or two, or 150 (as one group of friends did working together as a group to produce 150 servings of mashed potatoes and gravy); whether you offered to prepared and cook the meat of the meal (like the 159 pound ham that was given to me and kindly prepared and cooked by another friend- I swear the ham weighed more than her!); maybe you were one who purchased and donated the supplies needed for our Care Bag Gift filled with personal care, cleaning and paper products that were literally funds in a home that was struggling to afford such basic necessitates.; or you offered a financial donation to cover the costs of material, supplies, or helped to pay a couple of unpayable bills that were hanging over a friend’s head (a Com Ed bill for one of our seniors whose monthly social security check was not going to cover the mortgage, utilities and the cost of an unexpected furnace repair- she was so overwhelmed with gratitude when the check for the electric bill was delivered to her with a turkey for her to cook for Christmas. She called me and asked what she could offer in return. She baked cookies for the Christmas Dinners and showed up on Christmas Day to join us in the festivities completely enjoying herself. As she left she told me that was the best Christmas she had in years.); perhaps you dropped off desserts, a pie, brownies, or like one friend continued the tradition of having all of her grandkids and family participate in the massive baking event producing gift wrapped boxes of homemade Christmas Cookies- 72 boxes this year; maybe you just showed up and gave the priceless gift of willing hands, feet and heart offering to help assemble the Care Bags on Dec 20th, or the meals on Christmas, or pulled up front and opened your car to be the official delivery vehicle that would bring Christmas to our friends- we made 87 deliveries on Christmas Day, 12 were made on Christmas Eve- the powerful ripples of the true gift of Christmas could never have been put in motion without your selfless offering of yourself to engage this mission from those who had the ability to make it happen to the home of a friend who humbly and gratefully was overwhelmed by that grace; or you might have been part of the amazing team of friends who gathered at Calvary Church, setting 20 deep fryers to cook at 8am on Christmas morning, pushing up their sleeves in the kitchen to wash and prep 68 turkeys before they would hit the oil be carefully monitored and timed to a perfect temperature and then cautiously laying it in it’s tin, cover then delivered it to the Township to be set in motion toward a table that would enjoy “the best tasting” turkey that they had ever enjoyed (from what I was told countless times over!). I believe the reason that the turkeys and everything tasted so amazingly incredible was that the magic ingredient of TLC was used throughout every bit and every facet of the preparation.

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” ~ Khalil Gibran

Without even one of these parts of the team we would not have completed the greatest Christmas Giving Event this community has ever seen.

Let that sink in.

For all who participated in some way, whether physically, financially, or emotionally by keeping us in thought and prayer (proof in the pudding: no one was harmed in the process of cooking, driving, carrying and delivering, or completing this massive act of compassion) in the largest united act of giving that this community has joined together to produce, I hope you are still feeling the tinkling of the excitement of having been a conduit of the true gift of Christmas right here in our corner of the world: you provided a most generous gift to someone who will never be able to personally thank you or repay you, yet their Christmas was better because you were a part of it and only you and I know you were a part of this beautiful chaos of a mission. What an exhilarating way to be filled up with a gift that cannot be purchased or received in any other way.

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ~ John Bunyan

Thank you truly does not capture the deep and sincere appreciation that I have for you as you jumped on board with me, supported me, worked alongside of me, believed in me, showed up and made this vision, this mission your mission as well.
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” ~ Romans 12:4-13

As we end 2014 I want to not only extend my deepest thanks to everyone who joined in any and every of the Hope and Friendship events, efforts, giving, acts of compassion and providers of what was needed to those who needed, but I want to let you know that my desire for Hope and Friendship’s impact to be greater is strong. Much good was accomplished laying the groundwork for more that can be done: more “YEAH Days”, more donations of items that are not needed in one home but greatly needed in another as the Hope and Friendship giving events unfold (dress clothing/prom dresses; gently used school supplies/calculators; winter clothing/household supplies; bikes, etc), more hands and feet offered to facilitate the events and acts of compassion (just as Christmas demonstrated the greater the team in quantity and heart the greater the outpouring of giving), more compassion and understanding that the situation of a neighbor, the setbacks that are experienced are not delegated to “them”, in the blink of an eye it could be anyone of us who gratefully and humbly accepts the offering of a Christmas Dinner from friends having experienced one of the most torrential and traumatic years of our lives. In the blink of an eye all that is comfortable around us can be turned upside down and lasso us to become those riding the defective horses, experiencing an abundant amount of lows keeping us on the mat unable to rise from the life blows without the hand of a friend.

May our entry into the New Year envelop an attitude of thanks, compassion, awareness, and ownership. May the incredible benevolence, acceptance, and unconditional friendship that was demonstrated, offered and cumulated just one week ago be present here in our community every single day throughout the New Year.



No one is going to come into our community and care more about our friends, our neighbors, our own, in need then we do.

No one is going to see the need in our community by driving through.

It takes a village to meet the needs of the village.

We are here, we are present and we are able.

May your New Year be blessed with more….

More peace, more success, more health, more love, and more awareness that you are the piece, the member, the one that is needed to meet voids here within your arm’s reach and more passion within you to do so.

I look forward to working alongside of you today, tomorrow and throughout 2015, as we just did, let us continue to make massive ripples of compassion and aid making not just Christmas Day better in Lemont, but every day.

Too big of a wish?

Nah. I’ve seen you at work and you got this. We got this.

Peace, love, and a most happy and blessed New Year to you my dear friend ❤

Terri O’Neill-Borders

Hope and Friendship Foundation
721 Hickory St, Lemont, IL 60439
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
Proverbs 31: 8-9


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