This is an exciting time of year at Kids to Love - the time we call on our community to help us grant the wishes of 1,700 local children in foster care. Kids to Love serves children in foster care across more than 20 counties in North Alabama and Southern Tennessee. 1,700 is a hard number to digest. Our team of elves takes it one child at a time, and every child matters: Rhett, Everett, Rylee, Danny, Emily, Keaton, Paxton, Jaxon and Eva.
Each of these children, and hundreds more like them, fills out a wish list. It’s the list they send to Santa. See, here’s the thing. We are Santa to our kids. Taking on a leadership role like that is not one we take lightly. Just as Santa can’t do it alone, neither can we. It takes many volunteers, many hands in our community to make it happen.
It takes a lot of gifts to fill 1,700 wish lists...LOTS! Every year our community comes out to support OUR kids! They host toy drives and coat drives, display our ornaments in their businesses, and sponsor full wish lists. It truly is the spirit of Christmas when we come together to make Christmas happen for children living in foster care.
Earlier this week I was in Fayetteville, Tennessee collecting toys with our friends at WDRM. A young man in his early 20s walked up and waited his turn to talk to us. Then he did something unexpected. He took off the scarf off he was wearing and handed it to us. It was cold, and he needed the scarf. I said “thank you, but do you need this?” “No” he insisted.
He started telling us about his family. How his mom and dad had both passed, but when they were here what a difference they made in the lives of so many.
“My mom and dad fostered more than 200 kids. They adopted six and they adopted me,” he said. “My parents always made sure we had a warm coat.”
He was doing what he was raised to do; take care of those in need. His parents would be so proud. The scarf was all he had to give, the equivalent to the “shirt off his back.”
He shared how he was in the reserves and wants to go active duty in the military. It was then I looked down to see the scarf he had on. The words 'honor, integrity, respect, selfless,” were printed on it.
Those words, that young man. He’s the hero in the story for our kids. Someone who has walked in their shoes, orphaned, adopted and orphaned again. He gives because he’s gone without. He gives because someone gave to him. He gives because it’s the right thing to do.
As he walked away, we were quiet. That young man that gave the scarf from his neck on a cold morning so one of our kids can be warm.
May we all give like him this Christmas.