Christmas for the City 2014...A Look Back...In Her Words
There is no better way to describe the events of last nights annual "Christmas for the City" (www.christmasforthecity.com) than with the following email I received this morning...
This was the second year Blair and I volunteered at Christmas for the City, and although we knew that our experience was going to be amazing (because it was last year) we had no idea what we were in store for.
We entered our station, Ezra's kitchen, around, a little disappointed that there were cinnamon rolls instead of cookies, but we were still excited about the night ahead of us. We smiled, passed out cinnamon rolls and wished Merry Christmas until about... And that is when this exhausted woman walked in with a mere look of help me in her eyes. On her back was a one year old who was fast asleep, and in her arms was an 8 month old who was also snoozing, and then closely behind her were two beautiful little girls ages 3 and 8. When she made it to the cinnamon roll table, she immediately made eye contact with me and said please take him. (Him referring to Sir Edward, the 8 month old who was sleeping in her arms) So I carefully took him out of her arms so she could sit down, and that's when I realized, not only had she made this voyage to Christmas for the city with four children, but she was also pregnant, very, very pregnant. She allowed her two daughters to enjoy a cinnamon roll while she just sat there, looking heart-broken and helpless. We gave her a bottle of water, because at this point, she looked as if she was about to go into labor. She was very grateful and just continued to sit there.
As I was holding her precious 8 month old in my hands, I realized she was in Ezra's Kitchen for a reason... I made small talk with her telling her how beautiful her family was, and getting their ages, and then I asked her if she lived around here. She looked up with her big brown eyes and said no, and then tears began to fall. I continued to hold her little one, while she sat with another one on her back. The 8 year old reached over and gave her mommy a tissue and asked her if she was okay; which was heart touching in itself. In the middle of her tears, she looked up and said "It's too late, isn't it?" I looked at her, trying to figure out what context she meant it was too late for, and then she asked again, "it's too late to get help for Christmas isn't it?" I was trying to hold back my emotions and told her that I was sure we could figure something out... But deep down I was worried. I spoke with the other two ladies who were working the cinnamon roll station with me, because I knew having this woman's baby in my arms, I couldn't really go far in the convention center to seek anyone who would be willing to really help. They immediately starting making phone calls and running around to various people to seek help. In the meantime, Sharon, this was her name, was worried about the punch cards... She wanted to know if she really had to go back to all of the stations to get her card punched for her children to get their special present, you could tell she was beyond exhausted... However, She was very concerned with them getting it. The next thing I knew we were able to get all four of her cards punched and a man, who I think went by the name of Devyn, brought each of them a couple of toys. Then a box full of food showed up and the blessing that there was a family at Christmas for the City (Devyn and his wife, who once again, I saw him, but am not quite certain his affiliation with CFTC) wanted to buy Christmas for this family. Sharon was beyond humbled by this, and just started crying again. She looked carefully at each boxed puzzle, and told the girls not to open them. And then she looked up at me, and said at least that will be something under the tree for them!
By this time, at least an hour had passed and I am still cuddling her sweet baby, who might I add was a very, very healthy baby! (My back was really starting to ache) She asked one of the other ladies at the station if she would hold her one year old for her (who was in a backpack-type toddler carrier) and she kindly said sure. She had earlier mentioned that she might go get another sandwich because she was hungry, but then the idea just seemed to pass... She then looked at me and said she would like to go upstairs and get her stuff so that she could just leave from downstairs and said I'll be right back, you guys just watch them... And she walked away with her two older girls, trusting that we were going to take care of her babies. I just smiled and said okay, knowing how hard it must be to carry a child on her back and one in her arms, and not to mention one on the way. 10 minutes passed, then 15, then 20... Next thing I knew 30 minutes had passed and We are still holding these two babies, with no mom in sight. The girls in the kitchen started panicking and asking if any volunteer went with her. I told her no, and then I realized what she was implying... That the mom had left the children with us. The other volunteers began to scatter looking for her, and I stood there thinking what on earth am I going to do with little Sir Edward... Don't get me wrong, we want kids one day, but I wasn't planning on leaving with this 8 month old baby who I didn't even know his last name. The cops then became involved, and I told them that I truly thought she would come back, and that maybe she went to eat dinner.
About 35 minutes later, here she came, walking back in with her subway sandwich! I was relieved, because at this point, there were so many people involved I really didn't know if she was coming back or not. She sat down with one of the girls to give her information for the family that was going to help them out for Christmas. Blair and I had already decided that we would help walk her to her car because there was no way she could carry her two kids and the box and watch the other two girls. So when I told her we would walk her to her car, she told us that she didn't have a car and rode the bus here... That was a game changer because at this point there was no way she could get all of her things home with her. The other three women, who were doing all of the behind the scenes stuff of getting her help, began running around again to figure out how we could safely get her home... The bus wasn't an option because she couldn't take her things, police officers couldn't because they didn't have car seats, but a taxi could and a taxi did. We walked her to the taxi, I'm still carrying Sir Edward, a heavy 8 month old and I have the hand of her Three year old as we cross the street while Blair has the 8 year old by his side. One of the ladies paid for her cab ride and we slipped her a little but of money... She was beyond grateful for both and looked at me with teary eyes and said this is going straight to pampers!! We closed the door to the cab and sent her on her way.
I say all of this because this is just ONE experience with the 4,000 people who attend Christmas for The City... This one experience put so much into perspective for us... How blessed we are for all of the things that God Provides us with, our family, our home, our finances, our church... It's hard to understand how good you really have it, until you are able to interact with someone who Christmas for the City is the only Christmas they are going to experience this year... Thank you for opening up this Experience to Project Re3; I am eternally grateful for last night!