Reflections from a Family Services Worker
Posted on December 29, 2016
A lot of hard work went into setting up and getting all the toys on display and organized for Christmas.
But once the clients started coming through to select gifts for their children, it was worth every moment, not only for them, but also for those of us who worked in that area.
We soon learned that generosity creates a lot of joy, not only for the receiver, but also the giver. The fun usually started with the amazement on the faces of many parents as they entered the toy room. There was usually the “wow, soooo many toys” comments, followed by a “I wouldn’t know where to start!”. Then by the time we explained to them what they were allowed to take, and how we could systematically help them to choose the right gifts for each child, they started to relax.
And then came the stories. Stories of autistic and handicapped children, stories of poverty, illness and hardship, of loss and grief. We were constantly reminded that we live in a broken world.
One lady had just lost her husband, one had lost a young child earlier that year, some had lost everything due to house fires, burglaries, disputes or other disasters. Almost every person who came through the door, whether a mum or a dad, had an interesting story or fact to share. We learned something about almost every child as we selected gifts for them – some were disabled, some had learning difficulties, some loved books, some were really smart, but every now and then some would laugh and decline when we suggested a toy as “the household would not be safe if he had one of those”.
But in most cases the stories were told with love, concern and pride. One lady seemed distraught as she came in. After having been offered a drink and a rest, and while selecting some toys, she told about an incident the night before. By the time I carried some bags of toys down the stairs and to her car, she was in tears and expressed her thankfulness over and over again. I got the biggest hug before she drove home to wrap her presents and share the joy and generosity with her children.
Mostly the toys were received with expressions of delight and thankfulness and often with a silent “I don’t know how to thank you for this!” While we assured them that this is exactly what the generous public wanted to do for them.
I think all of us working in Family Services and the toy section learned much from this experience – mostly to be thankful for all we have and for being allowed to spend time with and bring some happiness to others!