#GivingTuesday – Our Family Story

Hope Rescue Mission

#GivingTuesday is about giving back during the holiday season. Started in 2012, this first Tuesday after Thanksgiving has become synonymous with the holiday spirit, with the saying “good will toward men.” Please allow me to share our story with you on how we “gave back” during this holiday season.

Our #GivingTuesday Story

Our family was blessed to participate in feeding the men who rely on The Hope Rescue Mission in Reading, Pennsylvania on Friday, November 29, 2013. It was an experience that will forever remain in my memory and that of my boys and my husband. We are usually on the receiving end at our local food banks, and I wanted my boys to understand that there are those in this world who have situations and circumstances far worse than our own, and to be grateful for what we do have.

This event was organized by our wonderful extended church family at CEFC in Pennsylvania, where my sister and husband and their children attend church regularly. (You would be hard-pressed to meet a more welcoming, loving church family!)

Our “objective” was to decorate the mission’s cafeteria and make it a festive occasion for the men. We set out beautiful centerpieces that the kids were in charge of arranging – fall flowers wrapped with orange ribbons, festive pumpkins, and then a scattering of fall leaves around it all. They learned how to properly set a table as well and the reason for having multiple forks (salad and dinner) which they thought was hilarious! My two boys especially who will use anything available to inhale their food!

The tables were decorated, the place settings set, and the food was almost ready to serve. We went to the adjacent church at the mission and had a brief service in both Spanish and English. The boys had fun attempting to sing praises to the Lord in a different language, and Jonathan did his best to try and not giggle at his brother (and mom’s!) botched job.

It was finally time for the men to come and enjoy their feast, and we waited anxiously for them to file in and take their seats. We had been assigned tables in groups and our job was to keep the food flowing, the water/tea/coffee flowing, and clear their plates and get them anything that they needed. Tre was running back and forth through the line with me getting plates of food for our men, while Jonathan and John took care of keeping drinks filled and clearing plates. While we had our “assigned” tables, everyone was helping out where ever they were needed.

My heart just swelled with pride when I saw my boys taking the time to stop and talk to the men, find out their names, give them a smile. I had tears in my eyes when afterwards, these same men came up to my husband and I and thanked us for our kindness and our generosity. One gentleman in particular told me that I had given him the best meal, the best evening, of his entire life. His smile was wide and his eyes glistened, and I knew in that moment that we had made a difference, that we had touched someone’s life.

THAT is what the meaning of Christmas is to me. To our family. To know that my boys will carry that moment of their lives with them forever is something I will cherish. Both of my boys have asked if there is a mission down here that we can help out at for Christmas and for next year as well.

Five hours out of our busy day-to-day lives changed us, for the better. Check out these tips on how you can help make a difference in someone else’s life, and your own.

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