Around the time my kids were really becoming aware that Christmas was on its way – Costco had been loaded with holiday paraphernalia for months, advertisements for the top toys of 2013 was were arriving daily and the Christmas lists were already as big as they were – something happened.
It was something monumental – although, being only pre-school and primary-school ages, they could have easily missed it.
Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines with an unparalleled force. According to news reports, it was the strongest storm recorded at landfall.
It’s the kind of news that one might shelter their kids from, but I felt it was important that they know. While what I gave them was an edited version, I felt like now, especially, as Western consumerism reaches its yearly high, they needed to know that there are others who will be experiencing a very different kind of Christmas.
And. They needed to know because last spring, my sister, Kelly, and niece, Avery, travelled to the Philippines to volunteer as short-term missionaries. When they went, the kids sent along a package of clothes and toys to share with the children there. I wanted them to know that those children – who were kinda-sorta connected to them, now, children who were wearing their clothes and playing with their toys, had suffered a tragedy and needed their help.
And right around that time, I saw this video, by Facebook friend Jennifer Cooper, who has a little video series on the PBS website called Adventures in Learning.
It was exactly the inspiration we needed.
So, we worked together, the kids and I, to put together a hot cocoa stand to raise money for the Philippines. After watching the video themselves, they put together a comprehensive list of everything they thought we would need, from a table and hot chocolate to a money jar to collect donations. Then we went shopping together, to gather our supplies. We also talked, a lot, about what we were doing, and why we were doing it, so that they could explain it on their own. And finally, Mr. Pear Tree designed some really awesome invites that the kids delivered around the neighbourhood to let people know what was going on.
Then, the following Sunday afternoon, we set up in our driveway and waited for them to come.
Here we are, waiting!
Isn’t that a tantalizing spread? We opted to use glass mugs, to encourage people to stick around and visit for a while, rather than taking their cup away with them, fast food style.
Before long, we had a little cluster of neighbours, family and friends from outside our complex.
It was a good day for hot cocoa. Cold, but not so cold you mind standing outside with a cup in your hands, shooting the breeze.
In the end, we made $200 and some change. But that’s not the end of the story. Because we gave the money to a recognized organization (ADRA – Adventist Development and Relief Agency – Canada), the Government of Canada is matching that amount, so the total is actually $400. That money will help to provide water, food, and shelters (among other things) to people in the Philippines trying to overcome the tragedy.
The cool thing is how everyone came together and gave, so generously. In a little corner of our Western world, so far removed from the eye of the storm, yet moved to help by giving what they could.
So I don’t know what to call a gift like that (community??), but I’m checking it off my own Christmas list, as received.