The dictionary defines community as “people living in the same general location”. Up until this week, I would have agreed with that definition. However, this Christmas taught me something entirely new about community. Here’s a little story for ya:
About 4 days before Christmas, my dad caught wind of a family in our town that consisted of a single mother and two young children. While we were all out doing last minute shopping and searching for New Years Eve outfits, this mother was figuring out how she was going to tell her two boys that Santa wouldn’t be coming to them this year. She couldn’t afford to buy them any Christmas presents. My dad, being the saint that he is, called on our community to help this family and keep the spirit of Christmas alive in those young boys. We know nothing about these people, even their names, but something had to be done. Well, this is where the community comes in.
After just a Facebook post directed at our own little town, the messages started coming in from all over the world. LITERALLY all over the world. People volunteered to help with no hesitation whatsoever. We had no idea what sort of things the kids liked to play with or what they liked to do, but that wasn’t a problem. People bought all sorts of things from toys to games to sleds so they could enjoy the snow. But it didn’t stop there. People also bought gift cards, warm winter gear, and more for the mom who was struggling to make ends meet. Things were getting dropped off at my house, my dad was picking things up all over the surrounding towns, and things were coming in the mail as well. All the while, this mother had no idea any of this was going on.
This mother did not ask for our community’s help. Nor did this mother know that her community expanded from the countless people in town helping out, to people in London sending gift cards (LONDON!!!), and people across the state ordering things online that could be picked up locally and wrapped for the kids (love you, Ali). The beautiful part is, this is my community too.
This Christmas was amazing. I got some great gifts and more importantly spent time with many of my loved ones. However, no price tag can be placed on what I learned this Christmas. I learned that community is not defined as the people that live around you. Your community is defined as the people who share the same values as you. Your community is made up of people who help out with no questions asked. Your community is made up of the people who would forget about the craziness of their holiday season in order to help out a family in need.
And of all the presents under the tree, nothing compares to the feeling that came over me when I found out that upon receiving these gifts, this single mother collapsed to the floor in tears. I am so thankful that this woman now knows the strength of our community.