You don’t have to be a reader of the Good Book to know that it is right to share, you only have had to been a kid. Kids share. Kids get it. It is a beautiful thing to see a toddler take what he is eating and share the slobbery messy portions that were solid food but now only resemble mush, saliva dissolved mush, and offer it to their parent or sibling. How can a loved one turn away an most sincere offer like that?? Later the word “share” will repeatedly be uttered (sometimes necessarily at higher volumes) by that same loving parental mush recipient.
Fast forward to adulthood. Look around your house, apartment, condo, castle. Do you have more than you need? Do you have corners filled with things that you haven’t looked at in years? If you have a basement like we do, I bet there are boxes down there that you have absolutely no idea of the contents. What about in your closets? Are you one who has to rotate seasonal clothes. Granted many times that is because your closets may be the size of a shoebox, but what about the times you have hauled clothing up and down the stairs each year and never found the right occasion, day, or were the perfect size to wear those clothing items? I am guilty of this. I have too much. I have had some of the same clothes for more than 20 years (Don’t judge- I hear everything comes back in style!!).
When I started Hope and Friendship one of the events I launched in the very first year was a winter clothing drive. Living in a beautiful community that has an average household income of $83,000 one would think that there would be no needy. One would be incorrect. Almost 6% of the 19,000 persons who reside in Lemont Township live at or below poverty level or at the very frightening and stressful threshold just above the poverty line. Did you know that the young grade schoolers cannot participate during winter recesses outside in the snow if they do not have boots? Do you know how hard it is for some of these households to simply put clothing and one pair of shoes on their children? Buying a pair of boots that will only be used during one winter season is absolutely not going to happen.
Rewind back to the first sentence of this blog. If you are a reader of the Good Book then you know that even back in the day the idea of sharing was being requested of those that were within earshot distance of this guy who wore a piece of fur and ate bugs and really had his head on straight (until he lost it- but I’ll save that for another blog on jealousy). Luke 3:11- “John said, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.” (And yes the Lemont Pantries are running low and we could use some food too while you’re cleaning out the surplus)
Some of the needs that I am blessed to have my eyes opened to, yet so very depressed to witness to see, is so very huge yet can be met with such ease. Simply share the surplus. If you can open your closet and see multiple coats, or tunics, that you own and yet always reach for the same coat, share one. If you have 4 white turtlenecks (of which I am guilty of) share one. It is easy to look around and think this need is not present in our town, but I beg with you to look closer. The shoes on some of our youngest friends are absolutely pitiful. Snow pants?? Are you serious? They are struggling to keep up with the electric and gas bills, they simply cannot spend much needed funds on snow pants!!!
Last year I held the winter clothing drive on the first Saturday in November, as I will this year, and of course the last week of October was absolutely freezing cold. I was worried about those who were making due waiting to sift through what I had been able to collect. I spoke to a grandmother who had been left to raise her grandchildren. The youngest was in desperate need of a coat and she had the Hope and Friendship Winter Clothing Drive marked on the calendar but it was a week away. She bundled the youngest in multiple spring coats ignoring his whining about not needing the layers and his worries of being made fun of for not looking like his peers. If you don’t think blending in is very important even in 1st grade you haven’t spoken to a 6 year old lately. She sent him off warning him not to remove one single layer, then called the school asked for his teacher and asked her to please shield him, if at all possible, from the jabs and jokes that he feared. After they found a “new” coat on that following Saturday she told me the story. It is so very hard for kids to understand why they can’t have the same life, belongings, house, vacations, etc. that Jack and Jill have. Yes it is the parents responsibility to instill the values in their child to let them know we are not all equal in the financial ballpark, some of us are way out in the parking lot. However, we can fill some of the voids in some of the struggling homes in our neighborhoods by simply sharing, giving, blessing another with a gently used (not tattered and torn with zipper broke) item that truly won’t be missed from the closet, from the corner, or from the box that might be lighter next season when you haul it from the basement. I have had quite a few friends, many of my senior male friends, who stop me and tell me proudly that the coat they are wearing came from the last or previous winter clothing drive. Did you know that men rarely give their clothes away? One reason is that men’s clothes are only donated if they have a wife who goes through their closet while they are at work. Men shop less and hold onto their clothing longer. Give me some of your clothes guys and enjoy a well earned shopping trip.
It is a beautiful thing to know that someone is warmer on the outside and inside because someone cared to share.
Please consider donating gently used winter clothing and shoes to the 7th Hope and Friendship Winter Clothing Drive. Bring your clothing donations to the Lemont Township Office, 1115 Warner Ave (behind Chipains), Lemont from 7:30am-4pm by Nov 1st. We will sort clothing on Friday and allow friends to choose their “treasures” on Saturday Nov 3rd.
Have any questions, ideas, financial donations to gift shopping cards? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for helping Hope and Friendship to continue to be a conduit from those that have to those that need. Wishing you much peace & love xoxo Terri