Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Day After

We can't believe Christmas has come and gone. It is the day after Christmas. It is Saturday. Our hearts and bellies are full. The house is a mess. There are toys and games everywhere. There are a plethora of treats covering our counters.  We are all in sugar commas. We love Christmas. We loved the month of December. We loved the feelings of love and service we experienced this month.

With all of the hustle and bustle of the season, I knew I wanted to shift the focus of our activities and the feelings in our home.

There is a fairly new company called the Giving Manger. I was so excited to stumble upon their company on Instagram. We have had a similar tradition/story that we have read over the years. However, we did not have the manger, Baby Jesus or our story(which is different than theirs) in a bound book.  I loved THe Giving Manger story and that it came with a little manger, pieces of straw and baby Jesus. The idea is that each time you perform an act of service, you put a piece of straw into the manger. The goal is to fill the manger with lots of soft straw by Christmas so Baby Jesus has a soft place to lay his head. The boys were all over this!
Our month was spent serving each other and those around us. It added such a nice spirit to our season.

The other activity that added so much love to our December was the service project on behlaf of the John Still Elementarty school in Sacramento(just 45 minutes away from our home). John Still is a school that has some amazing teachers/employees who help provide the basic needs for alot of their students and their families. My freind Tracy was collecting clothing and food items for the school in late November. When she mentioned that there were about 50 children/families who were homeless and would be without food/meals during the holiday break, I could not sleep. There were even a few nights where I actually cried myself to sleep.  I felt like I needed/could do something to help.I decided to post about the school and their needs on my Facebook page and provided our PayPal account so friends and family could donate/participate. The response was overwheleming and brought me to tears many times. In 6 days, we collected over $500.00 and our our entire entry way was filled with donations from friends and families who wanted to help. Again, I was so the best possible way.

John, Garrett(he wanted to be pulled out of school to help) and I headed to Wal*Mart and Costco to purchase lots of food...the basics. It was so much fun shopping, all the while keeping these sweet children and their families in mind.
This was just day #1 after posting on FB.

We had it all organized and loaded into our cars. We headed down to John Still on the Wednesday before the students would be getting out for the Christmas break. Our car was loaded. Tracy's car was loaded.
While we were at the school, unloading all of the food and clothing, I held it together. I was doing a good job, holding it all together until I saw a group of 7 children (kindergarten/first grade age) who were shopping in their little store. Their teacher and a volunteer helped them shop, finding them some "new to them" clothes. They walked out of the little store with their brown paper bags clutched to their chests and huge smiles on their faces. I lost it right then and there and quickly put my shades back on. What a bunch a sweethearts. 

Their little set up was amazing and very humbling. My freind texted me later that day, letting me know that they were able to fill 150 bags of food to give away to famiies that needed it most. Again, I lost it.

i am looking into volunteering down there on a regular basis. If at anytime you would like to drop clothing/food items off at my house or donate via our PayPal account, I will make sure that it is taken to their school. It was so fun to do this service project together, as a family. It really did set the tone for our Deceber.
This quote by President Monson (the Prophet of our church) sums it all up perfectly.