Yesterday, I mentioned our Christmas families in my blog and the generosity of our staff. We provided Christmas for nearly 100 families in our community. WMHS departments and individuals sponsor families who come to us from a variety of sources and all are vetted in advance to be sure that each family is truly deserving, unlike the first family that I was involved in providing Christmas for early in my career.
It was in a neighborhood in Pittsburgh that was abandoned except for this one house. We arrived at 4 AM Christmas morning as arranged in advance. The family was living in complete squalor. There was filth everywhere. When I turned on the lights in what could have been the dining room, there were families of roaches all over the walls. I never saw so many roaches in my life. We came with a truck load of gifts for the mother and 5 kids. New bikes for each child, dolls, games and clothes. The faces on these children were priceless. Finally, a real Christmas.
Not so fast. It turns out that there was no vetting process by the church that gave us the name of the family. Mom was a hard core drug addict who sold or traded all of the gifts for drugs within days of Christmas. I learned a lot from that experience. A reliable vetting process is key in making sure that we are helping families who are truly in need. Many of us at WMHS have so much to be grateful for this holiday season and it was clearly demonstrated this Christmas through our Christmas Family project.
Have a very Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season. I will be taking a blogging break between Christmas and New Year's as I need to develop some more material.