It’s an image straight from the pages of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: from under the robe of the Ghost of Christmas Present tumbled two children—each was barefoot with only the thinnest fabric covering their shivering bodies from the winter cold.
Dickens represented society’s abandonment of the poor and the consequences of that abandonment with these two children. He was a strong proponent of taking care of those in need, as evidenced in many of his novels, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, Little Dorrit, and many others.
In the beginning of A Christmas Carol, the ghost of Jacob Marley admonishes Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge complimented the spirit on his business savvy. To which Marley responded “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, benevolence, were all my business!”
This was a lesson learned early in life by Eagle Scout candidate Adam Haddad. For his Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout project, Adam mounted a coat drive—going door-to-door collecting used winter coats, hats, gloves, scarves and other cold weather clothing for GRACE clients.
“Temperatures are dropping; families need warm clothes,” said Adam. “Few things bring me more joy than being able to help others in such a way.”
Adam recruited and led a group of 25 others—members of his BSA troop, Scouting leaders and volunteers, and family members—who served more than 70 hours to see the project through to completion. The group placed flyers on doors in neighboring areas and returned to collect items on December 17.
In all Adam and his crew collected more than 300 items—filling over a dozen large bags with cold weather gear. “These goods are going to be keeping families warm,” said Adam.
The GRACE Clothing Room takes the winter weather seriously as well. Dina Pesina, Clothing Room Manager, packages cold-weather clothing for children throughout the year. Winter bundles include sets of long pants, long-sleeved shirts, pajamas, socks and underwear. Families come to GRACE Main beginning November 1 to pick up the bundles for their children. But jackets and shoes are a separate matter.
Dina has racks of jackets and coats in all sizes, colors and designs. Likewise, she maintains shelves of shoes in all types and sizes. Children are asked to come in pick out their coats and shoes. Some opt for sand-tan army-style hightops, others look for dressier oxfords. Still others go straight to the shelves-after-shelves of gently-used Nikes, Reeboks, Skechers and other brands of sports shoes.
“Kids wear what they like,” said Dina. “We want them to pick out their own coats and shoes, so they’ll put them on and keep them on—that’s the important thing.”
Last year, Dina distributed 2,581 pairs of children’s shoes—over the last three years she has given out more than 6,780 pairs of shoes. Likewise, children last winter received 726 coats and jackets—Dina’s three-year total is 2,051 coats.
Dina reminded, “All of these jackets and shoes—all of the clothing we give out—is donated. People are literally giving the coats off their backs so others can be warm this winter.”
Truly, for people like Adam, and all our donors, who already know how to “honor Christmas, and keep it all the year,” they do not need any visits from spirits to realize that mankind is their business.
And so, as Christmas is upon us, on behalf of the GRACE staff, volunteers and, especially, on behalf of all those we serve, as Tiny Tim observed, “God bless us, every one!”