A “Gift That Keeps on Giving”

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 24, 2007

By CATHERINE LEGG / Staff Writer

We forget so often that many, many, good deeds have a ripple effect — like the “gift that keeps on giving.”

Shelby Emergency Assistance is particularly aware of these special gifts. A perfect example is the story of a lady who came to them in mid-November asking to sponsor a child for Christmas.

She told them she had never before sponsored a child and that she had a 5-year-old daughter. It happened that there was, on the list of children needing sponsors, 5-year-old Julie (not her real name) living with her elderly grandparents, so the match was made and Julie would have a real Christmas.

A few weeks later, a letter arrived addressed to SEA explaining why the angel project meant so much to the woman and her daughter.

“I want to thank you for letting us help this year. My daughter has been helping me pick out gifts for Julie and thinks it’s cool. Also, I was a foster kid for nine years, and I have been in Julie’s place before. My name was on an “Angel Tree” every year for nine years. I am forever grateful to those people who were able to think of me among their busy schedules.”

Karen Pendleton, chair of SEA’s Christmas project, treasured the letter and the story it told of the people who adopted this child for Christmas many years ago.

“I wondered if they had any idea that those Christmas gifts would, years later, turn into gifts given to another child,” Pendleton said. Then, after a moment’s pause, she continued.

“So, for all of the sponsors who put in their time and effort buying those gifts for that unknown child in need, take a moment to just imagine that ‘Angel’ growing up and helping another child one day.”

There are so many of these stories and there will continue to be many more as 46

individuals or groups have volunteered with SEA this year. Those gift givers will provide Christmas for 121 children

and hopefully influence them to do the same for others down the line.

Their gifts, representing unselfish time, money, effort and love, will no doubt have a terrific and lasting impact on the lives of these needy children and each gift will have a story of its own, begun at this time and in this place.

If each story is of a “gift that kept on giving,” and that story multiplies, then there will be an incredible number of happy, excited children on Christmas mornings for years to come.

Catherine Legg can be reached at mailto:clegg2@bellsouth.net.