21 November 2018
A Miracle on 3rd Street
It was the week before Christmas and though bellringing efforts continued activity had relatively quieted after the food and toy distribution was over at The Salvation Army Service Center at 40 South Third Street in Hudson, NY. They had given out all the toys that were donated, and thankful they had just enough to meet the needs in the community. Then the strangest thing happened.
Sodexo and Columbia Memorial Health dropped off an enormous box of toys, hats, mittens, books and more after completing their Angel Tree campaign for the season but hadn't been able to deliver it until after the center's distribution. Shortly after, one of their regular bell ringers walked in and said, "I have no idea why I bought toys, but I did. Can you use them?” The staff wasn't even sure how they would but replied with an emphatic, “YES!” That afternoon, the Hudson Police Department unloaded a patrol car full of toys and books at the door saying, "We know we missed the date, but we have a car full of toys!” Another volunteer was out picking up a countertop kettle from a business in Catskill when the people he was picking up from, loaded his trunk with toys, "We went shopping!”
Two employees, Jill and Ria, were now sitting in a room full of toys, hats, mittens, books, crafty items, makeup bags - you name it, they had it. They joked about the fact that they had no idea what they were going to do with it all until next year. The two recount the story and said, "We both looked at each other and at the same time said, "This isn't going to be good!”
A day later they got a call asking for help. A local mom and dad had four kids with a baby on the way. Financially the family had been holding it together, but it took a great deal of careful planning. Their December bills were finally paid, and mom and dad were going to use the last paycheck of the year to go Christmas shopping. The day before they were to go shopping, dad suffered a massive heart attack and didn't make it. The check that Mom was counting on to purchase her children's Christmas gifts now needed to pay for a funeral. Christmas was now the furthest thought from her mind. She could not even begin to think about Christmas and was focusing all she could on keeping herself together for the sake of her children.
Jill and Ria were overwhelmed at what was unfolding before them. The whole day prior, a miracle was forming around them to support and encourage this family. They got the ages and sizes of the kids, their likes and dislikes, and loaded boxes and gift bags for each child, for the baby on the way and, of course, for mom. They made sure the family had boxes of food for the holiday - meals, snack foods, and other holiday treats. Any other year and the center would have been wiped out of food and toys, but this year they were able to fill an entire SUV with everything a family needed on Christmas. They knew that it wasn't merely toys and food that was being loaded into the car that day. It was hope. Hope given by a community that came together knowing when one person rises, we all do. And, their thankfulness for this simple act of standing in the gap was felt by all.
If you've given to a red kettle
, purchased a gift for a child
on an Angel Tree tag, volunteered
at a holiday toy or food distribution, donated online
, sent in a check or made a phone call to The Salvation Army, you've been a part of a miracle. Maybe not this miracle, but a miracle that happens both great and small in every community every Christmas season because you find value in every person The Salvation Army has the privilege to serve.
Thank you for being our miracle.