Happy New Year, FLOWers! Many of you may recall some very special families we adopted during the Christmas season, families in need of basic necessities and some extra funds to help them pay a few bills throughout the cold winter months. Well, we are happy to announce that our fundraiser was a huge success and we were able to split $4000 between two families in need over the holidays. Thanks to many generous hearts, we were not only able to give them some necessities, but more importantly, some much needed hope that better things are to come!
At the conclusion of the fundraiser, we visited one of the families, a single mother and her two children, to deliver the much needed donations. This visit made quite an impression on our staff, and we wanted to share their story:
As we approached the house, we reminded ourselves of the reason for our visit, that right now, in this moment it is all about them. We knocked on the front door and a young girl, about four years old, in a worn shirt, faded pink tights, and long black hair rushed to meet us. Her smile was bright enough to make our worries disappear, and we felt nothing but love and compassion for this little girl and her family. It made us realize how much this family really needed us. She spotted one of the stuffed animals in Chandler’s hands and, when she realized it was for her, she grasped onto it with no hesitation, jumping up and down and shouting with pure joy. At that moment, we were taken back to a time in our childhood where life was so simple, when a stuffed animal had the power to take all our worries away.
We entered their apartment surrounded by nothing but dimly lit walls and bare tile floors. Their beds consisted of old torn up mattresses laying helplessly on the upstairs bedroom floor. A boy, only a few years older than his sister greeted us at the door, he possessed a look of heartache, a look that you shouldn’t have to see in someone so young. Chandler reached out to offer him the other stuffed animal in his hands. His face lit up, but he seemed to be wondering, “Is this really happening? Is this for me?” When he finally accepted the stuffed animal, he gave it the gentlest of hugs. This moment and the brief glimpse we caught of the families’ living conditions really brought the whole experience to life, they really needed our help.
Every year, families all over the country may lose their homes and have their lives otherwise torn apart due to unavoidable circumstances such as domestic abuse or unemployment. We hear these stories on the news more often than we should, and we as a society have become accustomed to these kinds of events. However, the reality is that hardships happen close to home, within our communities, and to our neighbors, friends, and loved ones—people we know personally.
This year we felt it was time to take Gandhi’s words to heart in a very personal way, and “be the change we want to see in the world.” After all, if we could help just one family, we would be making a difference. So, we set a huge goal, and reached out to our community to help us achieve it. While we had very little time to do so, our students and their parents, coaches, friends, and families came together and raised over $4000 dollars for two local families in need. We were also astounded at the generous donations of toys and household items most consider to be basic necessities (beds, furniture, and a washer and dryer).
The outpouring of support for these families was beyond what we ever imagined and we owe our gratitude to those who came together and helped us make a difference in these families’ lives—families who, without your help, wouldn’t have been able to afford rent and provide for their children, families who might have had been forced to return to the streets.
With your help, we were able to accomplish something truly amazing. You reached into your hearts and sacrificed something small, to help us make a big difference. If you were one of the many who donated clothing, money, or household items to these families, we want you to know that it’s people like you that make our world a better place.
Moving forward, we want to help more families affected by challenging financial circumstances, but we are also determined to create a support system for those already touched by your generosity. This is our goal, not as an outward display of charity, but because we truly want to make a difference in their lives both now and in the future. There is a feeling of joy and pride that overcomes you when you devote yourself to others, and one person’s selflessness, no matter how small, can truly make a difference in someone’s life.
FLOWers, from the bottom of our hearts, we truly thank you for the love and kindness you showed this holiday season.