When I became a stay at home mom, I vowed to pursue volunteer work as much as possible. I know that I am fortunate to have the life and family that I do, and I know that others are not so lucky. Not having piles of money lying around these days, time is sometimes the only thing I have to give. Yesterday, I volunteered for a family service organization in our town. This organization provides many services for families in need and yesterday's agenda was to distribute school supplies.
Families have to qualify in advance to receive this service, so there was a set of supplies designated for each individual child. A backpack filled with the required supplies for their grade level, a shopping bag full of clothes and shoes appropriate for their age and sex, toiletries for the older kids and lunchboxes for the little ones. There was a section for the girls to have their nails painted. Nurses were on standby to give shots if needed. A hairstylist gave back-to-school cuts. My eyes filled with tears when I first arrived and took in this room of bustling generosity. And again and again when I met the parents and children who came in and received their gifts.
There was the mom who has five children, no husband (and no child support), and a minimum wage job. She looked at me with embarrassed gratitude and said "God bless you all. I don't know what I would do without this kind of help." The mother in the luxury SUV and designer clothes living out of her car because she recently left a wealthy, abusive husband and has fled to a shelter with her children. She wept openly when she saw the overflowing bags handed to her.
The high school boy with his younger sister there alone. They were quietly polite, barely looking me in the eye. The boy had an attitude of prideful indifference, but the girl's eyes sparkled when she saw the brand new pink sneakers with silver stars in her bag. Her brother grudgingly agreed to wait for her to get her nails painted neon orange. He seemed bored and irritated, but I saw him try to look through his bag at the clothes when he thought no one was looking.
At the end of my shift, my husband brought the kids to see me and we all walked down to the pizza place for dinner. As we walked, I looked at my beautiful family and thanked God for all of them, and for my sweet husband who makes it possible for me to be at home with them and for us to pig out on pizza dinners just about any time we feel like it. I kept hearing the Martina McBride song, I Have Been Blessed, in my head. I have been blessed, with so much more than I deserve/To be here with the ones who love me/To love them so much it hurts/I am so blessed.