This is too much work; I’m too old; I’m tired; it’s too close to Christmas.  All the reasons why I told myself I shouldn’t be working on the Giving Tree. Then came Friday, the day of distribution/delivery. The first person who walked through the door looked at all the stuff and said “my husband has been out of work for a year and a half.  He goes on interview after interview.  We have prayed constantly, but there are always so many people applying for the same job. But, yesterday he got a phone call and he has a good job starting after the first of the year.”  She started crying; we all started crying.  She hugged each of us.  Then I gave her the $100 gift certificate to Winco and she cried some more. We joined her with tears and hugs. Then a woman came in wearing slippers on her feet.  The kind of slippers you buy at the Dollar Tree—flat, thin, no toes, and no heels. I said, “you forgot your heavy shoes today—it’s cold out there.”  She said, “these are my shoes, my kids come first.” After she got her food and gifts, we took her down to the clothes closet and found her some tennis shoes, socks and a warm coat.

We had a woman who sobbed on my shoulder after I gave her the gift certificate. She couldn’t stop crying, so I told her to cry as long as she needed to, but then I was going to ask her a silly question and we all would laugh. She had a “diamond” attached to her chest and I wanted to know how they did that.  She told us all about the procedure, said she wasn’t ever doing that again and by the time she had finished describing it we were all laughing and hugging some more.

One man came with his son and after they saw how much there was for them, he said they had walked from over by the new EWEB building because they have no car.  They had no idea the amount of stuff there would be and intended to carry it home. Rick drove them home.

After I gave one woman the gift certificate she said, “I was on my way to Winco. Now I can buy meat.” Here we were, four women who can afford to buy whatever our families need and extras besides and she can’t buy meat.  What lessons we learn.

We have never had so many single families, we have never had so many hugs and tears of thanks.  There is so much need in our neighborhood.

I wrote this because I want each one of you to know how much your gifts of time, food, gifts and money mean to those people. Your gifts are not in vain and we thank each one of you from the bottom of our hearts for your help. My cards have not been addressed; I have not been to the grocery store. But this day has put things in perspective. So, the cards go out after Christmas!

At 12:30 on Friday afternoon Amber, Donna, Erma and I looked at each other and said “ONE MORE YEAR.  WE CAN DO IT ONE MORE YEAR!”  Maybe next year you’d like to help us!

~ Carol Rhodes