I spent Tuesday morning talking with Carlos Childs, the Family and Community Liaison at Campbell Park Elementary. We were coordinating the delivery details of the new refrigerator that the Cathedral has purchased for the Teacher's Lounge, since the old refrigerator got zapped when the school was struck by lightening in August. A big thank you to the Outreach Committee for allocating the funds for a new fridge- it gets delivered Tuesday the 6th!
While Carlos and I were speaking, we turned to the Holidays- what was Thanksgiving like and what will Christmas look like for the kids at Campbell Park.
I am so thankful for Carlos. He is doing a wonderful job at Campbell Park, and I'm not sure I have ever met someone with a more giving and generous heart. He has secured, through the generosity of a business, one Christmas present for each child at Campbell Park. What is still up in the air is how the children will eat over the two week break from school.
98% of the student body is on free lunch. For many of the students the breakfast and lunch provided by Campbell Park is the only meal they will eat that day. A little less than 200 of the students get food sacks to help make the weekends bearable.
And this was maybe the most painful. 89 students at Campbell Park are designated as homeless.
What my family takes as a given: that we will have food, electricity, and a roof over our head is uncertain for too many of these very small children. In trying to discern what kind of food we might purchase, Carlos and I had to wonder, can we send food home over the Holiday break that requires the use of a microwave or electricity?
December 16th will mark the last day of the Fall Semester at Campbell Park and the beginning of two weeks where there will be a number of students who will not cherish the break from school. It will mean two weeks of uncertainty about where their food will come from.
How can we help? Thankfully Campbell Park Elementary has Carlos and a team of Social Workers and other trained professionals who can help those who need help. They are in the process of identifying families that will need assistance over the Holiday Break, and either give them gift cards to provide for themselves during that time OR go food and present shopping for the families. You can help with both the purchasing of Walmart Gift Cards or with adopting families and doing the shopping for them.
I will be using some of the Project 33701 funds to purchase gift cards. But I want to open this opportunity to all of you as well. We have before us an opportunity to help meet some of the overlooked needs of our neighbors that can happen with the Holiday season- giving joy and love through a full belly, helping to bridge the time between December 16th and January 3rd when students are back in class.
I truly believe that this is the most wonderful time of the year. Complicated and complex and sometimes very depressing and heartbreaking. But this time of year is when we are called to remember that God came into the world and completely changed everything with the birth of Jesus. It is the time of year when we remember just how God chose to show what a relationship with us was going to be like: coming first as a vulnerable and dependent child and leaving as a vulnerable and broken man. I believe that Christ came and left to remind us that it is the vulnerable and broken that we are called to love and serve, that in fact we serve Christ when we serve each other.
I am filled with gratitude for everyone at the Cathedral- who has supported Campbell Park in ways that cannot be numbered. Continue in your prayers for them. Continue in your love for them. Continue in your support of them. Because they are us, and we are them, and together we are better.