Christmas morning is one of my favorite days of the year at Shepherd’s Gate — every year, a familiar scene plays out as homeless women and children open gifts together.
I have to tell you, it never gets old — and it never ceases to bring tears to my eyes! A few days before Christmas, mothers are able to choose donated items specifically for their children — a coat, a few clothing items, a toy or two. Then they lovingly wrap these gifts for their kids. Sometimes it’s been years since a mom has been able to give her children anything — much less a small toy on Christmas morning. For families who’ve been living on friends’ couches or living out of their car after home foreclosure or domestic violence, chances are it’s been a long time since they’ve been able to share these precious moments together. For other mothers who’ve fought so hard to get sober, this might be the first Christmas they’ve even had their children near. You can tell they feel ashamed. But on Christmas morning at here at Shepherd’s Gate, something special happens. You should see the look of shaky pride on mothers’ faces when they give their children a box to unwrap. It’s such a small thing, but being able to give a gift begins to restore a mother’s confidence in a special way. What’s more, it gives them hope that their lives really can be healed. If you’d like to be a part of this special moment, I’d encourage you to drop off an unwrapped toy or new clothing item between now and December 20. (If you cannot make this date and still want to help, you can come any time. Gifts are needed all year so we can bless the women and children for their birthdays, as well.) Have you experienced moments that began to gently restore your confidence after a season of struggle? What happened that helped you find hope again? Please share your stories in the comments section below — we love hearing from you!
Steve McRee Executive Director, Shepherd’s Gate