Our Education and Hope tradition of “Christmas-in-a-basket” began as a way to feed and support some of our most vulnerable families during our winter break. The baskets contain everyday cooking staples as well as foods traditionally enjoyed during the holidays, things like red delicious apples, hot chocolate, and marshmallows. It’s a chance to remind our families that they’re not alone at Christmas and offer some treats for the family that might be out of reach for them otherwise.
On Christmas Day, one of our college students, Jenny, was telling me what it was like as a little girl to receive our Christmas basket. She grew up in the care of her grandmother and says that during the holidays, whenever they’d go to the market her siblings and cousins would all be dazzled by holiday delicacies – the endless displays of shiny Red Delicious apples, the giant purple grapes. She said it was so hard to see this abundance without being able to understand why her grandmother couldn’t afford to buy any of these things.
But then in the days leading up to Christmas, Lorena would arrive with a big basket filled with all of the most special treats! Their grandmother would pass out grapes one by one and then cut up apples to share. The kids would race to toast marshmallows over the cooking fire while their grandmother made the hot chocolate. Jenny described in detail the fever pitch of excitement around sharing the contents of the basket… the clementines, the sweet peaches.. so many fruits that were considered luxuries in her house on any other day. Without the gift basket, there wouldn’t have been much to distinguish Christmas from any other day.
Jenny’s recounting reminded me how easy it can be to take for granted seemingly simple things that are extraordinarily special to others. So much happiness spilling forth from this seemingly small gesture. The support we receive as a program touches the lives of our family members in more ways than we’ll ever know.
Looking through the photos from the Christmas gift basket delivery day, I am struck by the number of grandmothers caring for our children. The newly widowed, young people without parents, families struggling with chronic illness. It fills my heart with gratitude l that we are able to offer this extremely vulnerable population a tangible symbol of our love, to remind them that they are never alone. Thank you for helping us to bring some joy and light into their holidays through this simple act of goodwill.