Whether it’s a successful benefit soccer tournament or a goal-thwarting Christmas donations drive, my respect for the selflessness and generosity of our community grows with every story on a volunteer-based organization and its accomplishments.
Last week, when compiling an update on Spirit of Christmas campaigns across the county, we reported that 101 Angels remained to be adopted as of Friday.However, as of the same day, the giving people in our community provided gifts under the tree for another 578.
Although the benevolence of donors is key, the event’s success couldn’t be without the organizers who give up their time to plan the drive. This may mean time away from their families, sacrificing lunch breaks and weekends and/or putting their sanity on the line – things that all committee members, and especially the head organizers, do.
But as I touched base with them last week, the sacrifices of two stood out.
It took a couple of attempts before I was able to get hold of Theresa Southwick, who is in charge of the Chico campaign. But once I did, two calls seemed like nothing.
After fervently apologizing, Theresa explained how she’d been in the hospital with her brother. Later in the conversation I learned her brother was in ICU with cancer.
Although her hurt was evident, she clung onto the positive, saying her family was “blessed to have had the past 25 years with him” following a brain aneurysm that doctors believed would leave him in a vegetative state.
“He made liars out of all of them,” she said proudly.
Local organizations stepped up and planned fundraisers to benefit the Chico campaign, a relief for Theresa and other organizers. However, the bulk of the logistics fell on Theresa, who was determined to see her commitment through, regardless of what was going on at home.
Same for Jana Tate, who oversees the Boyd campaign. As a wife and mother of five, there is plenty to keep her busy. Imagine throwing into the mix a son’s wedding, two graduations, remodeling a home after a fire damaged its structure and a scammed Spirit of Christmas bank account.
Jana juggled it all gracefully. Although she has long been involved in the community, she zeroed in on the importance of continuing after her family found themselves on the receiving end. After the fire, members of the family’s church stepped in to help in the “forced remodel” of their home.
“You just never know,” she said.
Through these campaigns, it is understood that the spirit of Christmas is helping our less fortunate neighbors by giving of our spare change.
The fact that these women set aside their personal struggles and gave of their time and energy to help members of the community captures the Spirit and essence of Christmas.