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Christmas Long Ago

by Admin in From the Executive Director

Like many little girls, my Christmas wishes were often a doll from Santa.

When I was 3, Santa brought me Poor Pitiful Pearl, and she quickly became my cherished possession, my constant companion.
Pearl was a simple doll made of hard plastic, and she didn’t “do” anything. She had big, round eyes, a button nose and her facial expression was truly…pitiful. She had patches on her dress and a red bandana tied in her blonde hair. As I recall, one of her stockings constantly sagged around her ankle.

Even into my teens though, I kept Pearl in a place of honor sitting on my bed. Sometimes I wonder if my love for Poor Pitiful Pearl might have been the first indication that I would one day find myself in a career as a helper.

When I became a mother, my Christmas wishes revolved more around the joy my daughter would experience as she discovered the gift Santa had brought for her. From a very large Big Bird she received when she was 2, to the Chicago Bears blanket she received just a few years ago, the joy I experienced watching her excitement warmed my heart and was indeed the best present I received.

During that time I also wished to teach my child that Santa is the spirit of giving at Christmas time and that each of us is Santa when we help others’ Christmas wishes come true.

Each year, as we were able, we would choose a name from the Tree of Wishes so that she could learn by example the joy of giving.
As we shopped for gifts for a person we had chosen, we talked about what might bring that person joy on Christmas morning. She often advocated for gifts that she wished for herself. I wished for her to experience the inner joy that being altruistic brings and believe she did as it became an important part of our Christmas traditions.


Christmas now

Christmas came early for me this year, when in September I was gifted with the opportunity to join the staff of the Family Service Center. I find myself surrounded by a staff, board and volunteers, who are like-minded, caring individuals. I cannot imagine a more committed group of people with whom to work.
As needs continue to grow in our community, we continue to look at ways to meet those needs. I often think, “I am so blessed. What more is there to wish for? I certainly don’t need ‘things.’ ” But there is more; there is more to do for others.

You can help make Christmas wishes a reality for nearly 1,000 people in our community by supporting the Tree of Wishes. The Tree of Wishes, in its 34th year, is the combined list of clients (ages 0 – 100) from 14 agencies in our community.

On the Tree of Wishes, you will find the names of children of all ages, people with developmental delays, victims of domestic violence, senior citizens and others who have no one to be Santa for them.

Family Service Center will have names on The Tree from all of our programs: Compass, our after school program for homeless and low income students; Foster Care and Adoption Programs which work hard to make stronger families; and our Counseling Program which helps children and adults heal from trauma and learn to cope with other life stressors.

It’s easy to help. Go to the lower level of White Oaks Mall (near Sears) where you’ll find the Tree of Wishes display beginning Nov. 24, chose a card with a person’s name, gender, age and a list of his/her Christmas wishes; then go shopping. Return the unwrapped gifts to the Tree of Wishes by Dec. 14.

I hope you will join me and make someone’s Christmas wishes come true. It is such a simple way to make a difference. We are truly blessed to be a part of such a caring, giving community filled with people, like you, willing to be Santa.

Christine Lindsey is the executive director of The Family Service Center. Learn more about our local holiday programs at springfieldunitedway.org. Look for United Way columns weekly in Our Towns.

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