It was a day filled with blessings.
The first appeared in the mail in the form of a large cardboard box from New Brunswick. Once opened, it revealed its contents in a colourful array of hand knitted love and care. Scarves, mittens, caps. A mother whose son and daughter had once used the services of the shelter where I work committed last year to send a box of hand knit woolies every Christmas. What an awesome gift. In her letter she told me of meeting a woman at a garage sale while she was hunting for wool to knit with. "She too used your shelter last year," she wrote. She went on to write how the woman had told her the shelter had saved her life. "You saved my children's lives too," she wrote. "May this box of rainbow colours brighten the day of everyone and lift their spirits."
What an awesome gift.
Another blessing arrived later that night. At 7pm a large truck followed by a yellow school bus pulled into the loading dock. The back door of the truck lifted up to reveal its packed insides. Jackets, blankets, underwear, boots, mitts, toques, sweaters. From the bus, a stream of yellow caped "Angels in the Night" disembarked and began forming a conga line to carry the goods into the building. Amidst laughter and singing of Christmas carols, the task was accomplished in half an hour. When they were done, our store was piled high with new warm winter wear that will be distributed amongst our clients over the coming days. What an awesome blessing from a group of 30 angels who during the day are mortgage brokers.
The most powerful blessing arrived all mixed up in a young girls pain and sorrow.
We have an online Christmas Wish List that tells the stories of our clients for everyone to read. People can log-in, read the stories, pick a person's wish and send in the gift specifically for that person. Mid-day, I received an email from the organizers (a group of volunteers from a local church). "Can you deal with this please? It's pretty intense."
The email contained was from a 15 year old girl searching for her mother. "Hi," she began. "I know it's next to impossible to find a homeless person online but I was reading through all the stories on your site and I think I've found my mother. I haven't seen her in a year and a half. She ran away from home three years ago. The last I knew she had gone to live there. She's a crack addict and I know it's hard for her but I need her. Even if this isn't my mother could you please make sure the woman gets my letter -- maybe it will help her."
I went on to read the letter, tears in my eyes, my heart pounding, my hands shaking.
Perhaps I'm too close to this young girls story. My daughters once lost me. Didn't know where to find me. And then a miracle drove up and I was set free. I was found.
For this young girl, time is running out. Three years is a long time to be on the streets as a crack addict.
I am determined to get the letter to the woman she named.