Hand out or hand up?

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Editor’s note: Between Dec. 17 and Dec. 27, The Chatham Voice is proud to share the 10 Stories of Giving. Each day, we follow a different story of Chatham-Kent giving, courtesy of The Gift. To read others, click here.

Jessica is all smiles after working with The Gift volunteers to get Christmas gifts for members of her family, and to spread the joy to others at The Chatham Motel.

“I feel like a Mom. We did this together.” Jessica’s excitement turns to heartfelt joy as she was asked what it felt like.

Rain and Shine Behavioural Counselling personnel were out and about providing meals to Chatham’s most vulnerable when they came across Jessica at the Chatham Motel.

A vibrant Jessica was excited to get a free coat from The Gift CK donations.

She beamed about how great she’s doing, how she’s getting clean and how much she’s looking forward to the future.

She started to go on about how proud she is of her son.

The Rain and Shine personnel perked right up; they are trying to make sure everyone has a Christmas.

“What are your plans for your son this Christmas?” the volunteers asked.

That’s when things became real. Jessica started to cry about how she didn’t know what she was going to do. She had only seen her son twice in the last 92 days.

“Chatham-Kent has toys Jessica, what are his interests?” the volunteers asked.

The complete transformation of her mood said it all. The way she went on describing in detail how her son loves to work with his hands, it became clear, this would mean the world to Jessica.

The volunteers hopped in the van right there and went to Michael’s. Jessica cried and cried calling her mom on the way. She shopped for over an hour, picking out just the right things. A white T-shirt for her, her mom, and her son plus a tie-dye kit for the two of them to make together. It was all paid from the financial donations of Chatham-Kent.

“How does it feel Jessica?” the volunteer asked.

“I feel like a Mom.”

What an amazing opportunity for CK to give to Jessica. What an amazing feeling for Jessica to be able to provide her son on Christmas. The question is: Did it get even better the next week?

The volunteers stopped at the Chatham Motel with a van load of CK donations to get something nice for the residents at the motel.

“We saw Jessica first, our collective hearts led us to the next step. We went there to play Santa Clause to anyone we could find,” the volunteers said. “We saw Jessica and in a moment it felt clear she could play that role at the Chatham Motel better than we ever could. She picked out all she needed to be able to get something for everyone at the motel. She even wanted to take hundreds of suicide prevention cards to hand out around town.”

Chatham-Kent gave Jessica a gift to provide a Christmas for her son. Then she got the job usually reserved for the select few. Maybe even a job she can do better than “we” can. Who knows the Chatham Motel better than those that live there? Who do they trust more? Who knows the ones that won’t accept help? Who can find them all?

Maybe most important of all; who will be there tomorrow? Jessica will. Jessica matters.

“How important is it for everyone to get the chance to have what so many of us have? Even if for a moment. Maybe they will want to have that moment a little more in the future. I sit at home and my biggest worry is that I’m stuck at home with my family. This makes me think.” – Gord Hyndman, Anderson’s Blenheim.

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