By Jackie White
She sits on the streets under a blanket shivering. If it wasn’t bad enough that she was there, so were her five kids. It just had to be the first snowfall of the year too. The baby wasn’t even a year old and the oldest was only 14. No matter what it was better than the beatings. She had escaped and they will figure out a way to survive.
The statistics are bleak. 50 – 80 percent of homeless persons are fleeing domestic violence. The choice to stay in a violent home or face the streets is not an easy choice.
The next night she found refuge in the waiting room of the emergency room. There she was referred to receive some help. That night the stars aligned and LaVonne and her children were connected to some unlikely help. Through these connections they were temporarily housed in an apartment of a Good Samaritan’s home. With a roof over their heads and heat, things were starting to stabilize a bit. It was only days before Christmas and even though they were off the streets LaVonne was bracing for a desperate holiday. That’s when LaVonne’s luck began to change.
A local cub scout pack heard about the plight of 5 children who were recently homeless and were likely to not have a Christmas. They volunteered to sponsor Christmas for the family. Adults organized what was needed and wanted by the family. The scouts and their families fell in line to make sure LaVonne and her children had the best Christmas ever. The cub scouts began by going through their own things to see if they could donate gently used toys, clothing, books and shoes, boots and coats. The cub scout pack then decided to dip into their pack funds they had raised and filled in the gaps of what was needed. Scout families also donated diapers, wipes, food, toiletries and other needed items.
This scout pack had a community service night every year and this year was extra special. The scouts were honored and determined to help make this family’s holiday bright. The scouts showed up with arms overflowing with items for LaVonne’s family so they could be wrapped for Christmas. The items soon filled the designated tables. There were not only gently used items there were brand new coats, shoes, grocery cards, diapers, toys and even a bike for one of the kids. The outpouring of love was unbelievable! The boys wrapped each and every gift carefully and made Christmas decorations for the tree. Everyone in the room that night could feel the power of giving. Each child’s face was thrilled to think of how surprised the family would be to receive all of the beautiful gifts. The parents were equally as inspired and the energy in the room was buzzing! When the pack discussed the family’s plight of experiencing homelessness to finding a home, there were even some tears shed. They were all truly affected by this family’s situation. The cub scouts were old enough to know that what they were doing was making a huge difference for this family. They beamed with pride.
The day came to deliver the presents to LaVonne and her family. The den leader’s van was packed to the gills. It took 4 people to unpack the car and put the gifts under the tree. LaVonne and her kids were speechless. The thoughtfulness of including needed clothing items, winter jackets, boots and diapers for the baby were enough. The toys, books and gift cards were icing on the cake.
That holiday season will likely not be forgotten by anyone who was a part of coming together to support that family. The power of giving is undeniable. The benefits are not only felt by the receiver but affect the giver in profound ways.
This holiday season give yourself and your family a gift and take some time to do something for others. Children can learn early how to help others and by doing so, you lay the foundation of a lifetime of giving. Here are some ways you can give back to your community:
Ways You and Your Family Can Get In To The Spirit of Giving
Donate a gift from a Holiday Wish List
Donate to Toys for Tots
Donate food to a Local Food Pantry
Make Blessing Bags for the Homeless
Make cards for the elderly in nursing homes
Make cookies for local fire or police
Deliver Meals on Wheels to the homebound
When you give to others, your heart can’t help but to expand and you too will feel the love of giving.
Happy Holidays and Shine On!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.