This year I had the honor to work alongside our youth on Christmas Day during the evening. Working Christmas Day was bitter sweet considering this is the time of year that most spend with family and the youth in our Crisis Program, are either without their loved ones or don’t have anyone at all. Throughout the shift I was trying my best to lighten the mood and distract them from dwelling on the fact that they’re missing family or wishing they had someone close to consider family.
My efforts were hit and miss and even though I got most of them to reveal a genuine smile or laugh there was still an undertone of sadness present. One youth in particular said something that struck a chord with me. Every year we give out backpacks that contain various gifts. He didn’t know about this until I asked him if he received one, which he hadn’t. I told him I’d be right back with one for him.
I returned and gave him his backpack full of gifts that included clothing, gift cards, goodies and other items. He was beyond thankful and expressed his thanks repeatedly. Then he looked at me saying thanks once again and followed by saying, “I didn’t think I’d get any gifts for Christmas this year, I didn’t get any last year.” I paused before responding because I was taken aback by his words. What he said hit home because it described the reality these youth live with each day. It was also humbling because despite his circumstances he was so thankful.
I smiled and replied telling him that I was glad we were able to give him something for Christmas. I felt grateful to be a part of this moment and it reinforced the reason why I chose years ago to be in a profession where I’m able to help those less fortunate.