(a Dignity Christmas Store, a partnership between SON Ministries and Cornerstone Christians Fellowship, with support from BMW Financial Services, New Life Christian Church)
By Betty Tom Denzer, SON Ministries Volunteer and Board Member
Last Wednesday evening, it was so nice to walk into the Good Tidings Christmas Store at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship and feel so welcomed! The positive energy level was amazing! There were many volunteers anxiously waiting to be trained and joyfully be part of the experience. A SON Ministries staff member did a wonderful job briefing us and giving us tips on how to work with families. Families stood at the doorway watching and listening as we volunteers were then lead in a blessing over the evening, while holding hands in a circle.
As a volunteer Personal Shopper, my husband assisted a husband and wife who had 5 children. We escorted them around the tables with our arms full of toys. The most exciting gift was the pair of high heel slippers for their 4 year old! As we got to the check-out line, their total came to only $12.00 – for TEN NEW and beautiful gifts!
But wait, the (supremely hard working and dedicated) Volunteer Checkout Clerks then told the family their total would only be $7.00 because the person in front of them had donated $5.00 for the next person in line!!!!
The Mom looked surprised but grateful!!!
When we offered gift wrapping, the husband and wife at first decided they would take supplies/paper home. However, when the couple got to the gift wrapping station to get their supplies, the volunteers warmly invited them to be creative right on the spot. I think this couple had the best time doing this activity!!! Actually, the husband showed some of his creative talents!!! They left with all their shopping done and wrapped!!!
The next family we assisted was a mom with 3 children. While waiting to pay for her gifts, she told me that her 8 year old did not believe in Santa anymore and had told the 2 younger siblings that “Mamma buys presents for Christmas and since she has no money, there will be no gifts this year.” So won’t they be surprised…including the 8 year old…!!! She left with all presents wrapped and ready to be hidden until the big day!!! Another SON volunteer came over and gave this woman a big hug – clearly a relationship underway…
I was then greeted at the door by a mom wanting to shop for her 13 year old twins. While I was an Americorps VISTA with SON Ministries, I had met this mom and gotten to know her two children. Though I hadn’t seen them recently, we had first met 2 years earlier, the summer they arrived to this country. The children participated in SON’s Hilliard Free Summer Lunch Camp for Kids right away that first summer and then that first school year at the Family ESOL/KIDS Club Program.
What a wonderful reunion for us at Good Tidings and a great opportunity to catch up after not seeing this family for a year!
We just stood there and screamed, hugged each other like little kids… As my husband and I helped her shop, she informed us that her husband is doing well and healthy now. The children are doing well in school. Her son has talents to become an artist one day. She is now employed and working at Marshall’s in Hilliard!
It is these SON Ministries success stories we want to share. How can you explain to someone about the impact of hours of listening, friendship, encouragement, providing job search skills, English language skills, making connections to resources, providing programming and serving as an avenue for her children to make friends, that has allowed this immigrant family to now be so well-integrated into the Hilliard community. For the first time last night, this mom wrapped presents for her children beaming! God is sooooo good….
So, my experience last night was not just about serving families in need, it was much bigger than that… Partnerships/relationships are pretty powerful. Seeing Pastors Joseph and Irma Chon at work in their Church home with the support of SON Ministries was so wonderful. That church came alive last night!!
I felt like God had his arms around me, took me aside and whispered in my ear saying: “Betty, I want to remind and show you again who I am and what I am all about. Do you get it and will you help me?”
What do you say when God calls?
At SON Ministries, through PARTNERSHIPS, we strive TOGETHER for the BEST for our community…