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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Santa's Helpers of Muskegon - 5 Years of Helping Others

5 years is a long time to keep a cause going.  Especially a cause that involves the kind of effort and emotion put forth by the folks behind Santa's Helpers of Muskegon.  Facing the fact that there is a need for some is hard enough.  But then, to take action on that need and work to pair kids and families who have little or nothing with those who can give just a little is what they have been doing, and it's been a growing endeavor.

It began as a way to cope with loss.  Karen Gagnon and her daughter in law Bri Shotwell with the loss of a daughter and granddaughter, and Cathy Strait lost a child as well.  For some, facing grief, the holidays only amplify those feelings of loss.  Instead of internalizing that anguish they decided that their loss could be channeled to help make someone else's life a little more blessed.  So, they got the idea together to find a handful of those who might need a little help and try to make a difference.

Find Santa's Helpers on Facebook or Help Donate Here
Year one, was quite a task.  They had 30 kids to help.  Every thing from necessities like clothing and personal items to a couple of toys and some of the things that make the season memorable. Year two, the word spread a little and the outreach got bigger.  Along came a couple of sponsors to help out and so did a few more "sponsor families" who were able to dig a little deeper to help.

The story isn't much different than we hear anywhere else.  The need, is generally among the working poor.  The families who have what it takes to pay the house payment and the utility bills....hopefully, but the extras....those are just more than can be afforded.  They are our friends and neighbors who probably don't let on that they are having a hard time, but might be food insecure, living pay check to pay check and barley getting by.  It's a story that repeats itself over and over and seems to continue to grow.

So, we're on to year 5.  I met up with Karen, Bri and Cathy once again. Last year, Karen's pet cockatoo stole the show, but this year, we met at Rocket Pizza which has served for the distribution site for the gifts in years past to talk about their group and their mission.  Take a listen.

What I love the most. Tragedy to triumph.  The insurmountable loss felt, even today with Cathy's tears can be turned in to a miracle for others and all it takes is the realization that planting a seed is all it takes.  Helping one, soon turns in to helping two and so on.  A miracle isn't walking on water or floating in mid air... a miracle is making sure that someone else knows that there is love in this world.  Giving someone else just a little hope that somewhere out there...someone did something for them with no strings attached and that someday down the line...they can return that gesture.  A miracle is humanity and we're all a part of it.  Be part of a miracle today. 

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