IT’S THE MOOOOOOST, WONDERFUL TIIIIIIIME OF THE YEAAAAAAAR!!!!!!
IT’S OUR SIXTH ANNUAL HOLIDAY HANDS!!!!!
As we start our project this year, let’s look back on how Together Rising’s Holiday Hands started. Here’s an excerpt from the 2011 post I wrote to launch this idea:
I was watching a news story about the economy recently and there were many families talking about how they were going to have a hard time buying gifts for their children this year. Some said that having their usual Christmas dinner was not an option, because they didn’t have the money for the turkey and the stuffing and the yummy desserts. Some said they were worried about paying the heat bill during the holidays. One man said he just wanted to buy his wife a little necklace, a little something to show her how much her work at home meant to him, but he couldn’t. There just wasn’t any extra. None. All of this made me want to stick the fork I was holding directly into my eye.
Then I started thinking about how there are probably many of YOUR FAMILIES in these situations, and that made me want to put my fork down and start brainstorming. Because no way. Not on our watch. We might not be able to fix everything, but we can do some things. We can acknowledge each other’s needs, hear them, and then help each other in little ways, because we belong to each other.
I’d rather my kids have three holiday gifts and your kids have three holiday gifts, than my kids have six gifts and your kids have no gifts. That’s the bottom line here, for me. And I bet it is for you, too. I think I know you well enough to know that you agree.
I figure that everyone reading this has a need this holiday.
Some of us don’t have enough this year. These folks need a hand putting food on the table and buying gifts for their kids.
Some of us have a little extra this year. These folks need to reach out to other families and share, in order to wake themselves up and connect and really experience what the holidays mean.
And some of us have just enough. These folks need to sit back and witness some miracles, to keep believing in people and love.
We all have needs. When we don’t share our needs, out of pride or fear of rejection, we deprive other people of fulfilling their needs. Sometimes we need to receive and sometimes we need to give. Seasons change. So please decide which type of person you are this year, and participate accordingly.
That’s how it started…with a little idea and a lot of love. And now Holiday Hands has evolved into a program that has served thousands of families over the years. It’s MAGIC.
Last November, our incredible community fulfilled the wishes and hopes of almost 600 families in 3 hours (including about one hundred unpublished requests that Together Rising fulfilled directly). When I think about how Holiday Hands has grown over the years, I am flabbergasted, overwhelmed, filled up, exhausted, and mostly—grateful. Grateful for the courage of the askers and grateful for the character of the givers. Grateful to see such beauty emerge during hard times. This community is like a flower pushing through the cracks of solid concrete—determined against all odds to rise toward the light.
Last year, Colleen wrote us this:
“I help to homeschool a 12 year old boy. He is diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. He is a really sweet, kind, talented kid. The problem is is that he doesn’t have a lot of friends to connect with. Kids think he’s a little different (aren’t we all!) and he doesn’t have a lot of social interaction in the way of kids his own age. … I believe in this community and I think they would love to write to my pal!”
Over 100 people signed up to write to him. Here are some of the first responses:
Ally wrote us this:
“I would be incredibly grateful for a simple, tasty Christmas meal for myself, my husband, and our three kids. We are not picky, anything will do. This is not a necessity, just a wish, but I would love to be able to surprise my kids by having a Christmas tree to put their gifts under this year. We were fortunate enough to get some free books and puzzles for their Christmas gifts, so they are all set, but our small “Charlie Brown” tree reached the end of it’s life a couple of Christmases ago, and we haven’t been able to get a new one yet.”
This is how you responded:
Sara wrote us this:
“I grew up in an abusive household, and I don’t have very many happy memories of my childhood. My husband and I are hoping that a special Christmas dinner will become a loving and comforting memory for our children to carry throughout their lives and will help strengthen the joy-filled bond we have with our kids.”
This is how you responded:
A precious mama wrote us this:
“My son is a freshman and would love an Under Armour sweatshirt… I have always worked and never have not had a job until my work shut down. I have been putting in 20 resumes a week and haven’t been able to find anything. I honestly don’t know how I will make Christmas work this year.”
This is how you responded:
Shay wrote to us with this:
“My friend is a sweet soul who LOVES people. She has a job as a bagger at Publix and is extremely grateful for it. She would really benefit from some good winter shoes and clothes and a few more undergarments.”
This is how you responded:
And those are just FIVE of the listings, you guys. FIVE. Out of hundreds and hundreds.
Twelve people wrote in asking simply for love notes from us. I tried to count the number of responses to each of these listings and had to stop after the first two, because more than a hundred of us signed up for each one and counting is hard. After that I just scrolled and scrolled, with heart overflowing.
This is what we did last year, and we’re going to do it again.
Let’s get started.
Today is the day for folks who need a little extra to post their needs. If you know someone who might need this program – forward it to them. We are HERE FOR THEM. If you have a little extra to give this year or you know some folks who do, pleasepleaseplease mark your calendar to meet us back here on Wednesday, November 9 to review the requests and find your family match for this holiday season.
PLEASE READ THESE GUIDELINES. THEY ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER THIS YEAR:
First: Please read and reread and rereread the instructions before posting questions.
Second: Starting in 2013, we set a cap of $100 on each request (per family) in order to be able to help even more families. HOLIDAY HANDS is the time when strangers help other strangers provide holiday cheer for their families. It is specifically designed to help provide for the holiday needs and wants of families so that they can put the funds they would have spent on gifts toward other needs.
Third: Requests may be submitted to us for a limited time. You will receive a confirmation email once you submit a request—please be sure to check your SPAM e-mail folder. We will keep submissions open until we reach our Holiday Hands capacity (which could happen in a matter of hours or days). Requests will not automatically be posted when submitted and just because a request was submitted does not mean it will necessarily be part of our Holiday Hands program. Rather, we will be collecting and reviewing requests and then we will post the final, approved requests that will be part of Holiday Hands on Wednesday, November 9.
Fourth: Every year, after Holiday Hands is shut down, Together Rising continues to receive requests for holiday miracles all the way up to the end of the month. If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution directly to Together Rising to allow us to help those families, please click here to donate.
WE BELONG TO EACH OTHER. LET’S PROVE IT. To list your needs and become part of our Holiday Hands 2016 Miracle, click here now:
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