I am usually a Christmas diva… I plan and attend great parties, decorate, bake, cook and typically have Christmas oozing out of everywhere. We always make it part of my Christmas tradition to donate time, food, gifts and money to those less fortunate. This year, a December holiday meant that the Christmas preparations were not done, and I was lacking some of the Christmas feeling I typically have. I woke Monday morning to my first day back to work, where the first thing on the schedule was a shopping trip with Susan and Kimberly.
Our company typically participates in a toy drive, but this year, we thought we’d try sponsoring families. Kim contacted the food banks in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Peachland, and we were assigned 3 families. The food bank volunteers provided us with details on the family members, wish lists for gifts, shopping suggestions for the food items they would need for a festive dinner and Christmas week. We put together a list of necessary items, and everyone in our office quickly signed up. We held a 50/50 raffle at our Christmas party, and agents and staff generously signed up for cash donations as well. Ellen and Karla arranged for turkeys to be donated. Jane’s team brought in grocery gift cards for the families, and so many staff members paraded in with peanut butter, cereal, stuffing, cranberry sauce… even toilet paper! Kimberly played Santa by maximizing our shopping dollars finding super sales and great discounts. The wish lists were not extravagant. The families wished for snow pants, body wash, a shaver. Monday morning’s shopping trip was to purchase the perishable items on our grocery list, as we were to deliver our Christmas haul two two of our families that day.
We headed of to Super Store, where I am sure we were quite a spectacle with our shopping cart caravan. We looked for healthy items, fruits and vegetables, dairy, eggs and some fun holiday trimmings for the kids like baked goods and gingerbread house kits. Assembling our findings into boxes and bins, we headed off to the first food bank in Kelowna.
Our family has a baby and a 15 year old daughter. Megan, the mom, pulled up and greeted us with warm hugs. She was overwhelmed with how much we started loading into her car, and quickly said that she really only expected to be picking up a few small gifts. She shared with us that she had just dropped her husband off at a job interview, and asked us to keep our fingers crossed for them. Her baby girl was adorable, though she looked at us quite inquisitively as we loaded up their car with all of the groceries and gifts. The food bank volunteers were very helpful and also very grateful. It was a real feel good experience!
Next, we were off to Westbank. While we were waiting there, another family popped in, looking for diapers for their child. Unfortunately, the foodbank did not have any in the size they needed, and it really got me thinking as to the scope of need out there in our community. Our next Mom and daughter showed up with another round of hugs! Chandra was a young mother with a baby girl. Seeing her really brought me back to my roots raising a baby at such a young age. She was a little misty when she popped out of her van and was even more so, once we started loading it with all of the wonderful Christmas trimmings. She said that they have really been struggling on a single income, and I felt so sorry that she felt the need to explain that. She gave us the most beautiful thank you card with a picture of their precious daughter.
This really put a lot into perspective for me as to what the true meaning of Christmas is. Not since I was a child have I experienced this level of gratitude for what I have, and true Christmas joy for what I received back from seeing those warm, grateful faces. I don’t know if I’ll have to put up many decorations or bake many cookies this year. I actually don’t need one more thing for Christmas, other than to spend time with the people I love. I am filled right up with Christmas spirit!
It’s not too late to donate! The Kelowna Community Foodbank is located at 1265 Ellis Street, near the Cannery Lofts. Westside Community Food Bank is near Interior Savings at 2545 Churchill Rd, or they have a special satellite food bank set up in the Westbank Town Centre Mall, near Save-On Foods. The Peachland Foodbank has moved right into town, and you can call them at 250-767-3312.
Thank you to Susan, Kimberly and all of the agents and staff (our “work family” at Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty). You really do beautiful work in our community.