If you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!

Christmas is a time of giving and a time of compassion. Hundreds if not thousands of organizations exists solely to provide a Christmas present or experience for children who may not get it otherwise. Love for Kids is one of those organizations and a very fine one indeed.

Last Saturday, I had the great privilege to help with their annualChristmas party, the largest of its kind in Texas hosting approximately 3,000 underprivileged children each year. I’ve participated in Angel Tree giving, Salvation Army gift distribution and Toys for Tots collections, but this event is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and such a blessing to many of those who participated.

The event is held at Circle R Ranch in Flower Mound, TX and has hundreds of volunteers who show up from dozens of organizations. The hundreds of volunteers are needed to make the experience special because soon after they arrive and are assigned to various tasks like arts and crafts, horseback riding or carnival games, more than 60 buses arrive carrying kids from all over the DFW area.

When I arrived with others from my church congregation, I volunteered for the carnival game area thinking I would make a good barker. There were already several volunteers there so the coordinator asked me to join a few others at the adjacent playground. Our goal was to ensure no one killed themselves or anyone else on the small, rickety, old play set. We prepared ourselves not thinking that the playground would be a big draw with carnival games, hay rides, horses, a petting zoo, crafts and so much more, but we were wrong. I never knew that a playground could mean so much to a child.

As the swarm of children came down the hill toward us and began to devour everything in front of it, our little wooden play area came under attack. I proudly took on the duty of the swings to ensure kids weren’t kicked by the swingers and that everyone got a turn. A line quickly had to be formed and the kids entertained while they waited their turn all at the same time as monitoring the surrounding area. What I thought was going to be a hard task of keeping kids safe and an easy task of making them angry with me, turned into a Christmas memory I will not easily forget.

Children went back and forth on the two swings for a couple minutes apiece. I would give some a push and teach the little ones how to propel themselves. For the ones waiting eagerly in line, I asked them about Santa and if they wrote him a letter or saw him yet. We sang Christmas songs like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. I watched children laugh and smile as their faces beamed telling me what they asked from Santa for Christmas.

One of the highlights of the day was a moment right out of Miracle on 34th Street, when three children, I’m assuming part of a refugee family, from Eritrea were in line. The oldest sibling looked like she was 12 while her younger brothers were probably not far behind. They didn’t speak English and didn’t understand what I asked them, but they lit right up as I sung about Santa’s lead reindeer, Rudolph. Then it was their turn to swing. They had never been on one before and probably never seen one before. They loved it so much and laughed and smiled just from their couple minutes of be pushed on the swings, something millions of us take for granted everyday as our swing sets get rusty in the backyard or park down the street.

Overall, the experience was enlightening and very joyful. I can’t judge the children or their family situations, but I could give them a small amount of my time to help them smile and find a little joy at this Christmas time.

There are hundreds of organizations that do similar, although smaller scale, projects like Love for Kids’ annual Christmas party. I encourage you to go and find something to get involved with. It was an adventure I will not likely forget for years to come. Spread a little cheer and goodwill this Christmas. And if you haven’t got a ha’penny then God bless you!

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