It’s that time of the year again, December has come and with it all the joys of Christmas. This glorious season, we should all take a moment individually and with our families to ponder the true meaning of the Christmas holidays. To help me understand the real spirit of this joyous occasion, I searched the words of the prophets. I found, of course, that the Christmas spirit is about love and remembering the birth of Christ, who later sacrificed his own life to offer us a better plan to reconcile with the living God, and out of gratitude for what our savior did for us, we should celebrate his birthday by worshipping Him, giving and not receiving, and being especially conscious of those in need. To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable and it becomes the Spirit of Christ.
Giving, brings to full bloom the true Christmas spirit and on Thursday afternoon, December 16th, I sat down with Gary Whitaker, Sheila Lowhorn, and Valerie Reid of Santa’s Helpers/Macon Helps, along with Christina Chambers of Cash Express, and I looked behind their faces into their hearts, and I was humbled at what I saw.
“For many, the holidays are a happy time of family and friends,” said Gary Whitaker as we began discussing the impending birthday of Jesus Christ, “but unfortunately for many more, it is a time of struggling to bring holiday cheer in difficult times and our goal is to bring light to families in their darkest hour. The importance of serving others can never be over-emphasized and the measure of our love shows in what we do for one another.”
“Originally Shop With The Cops,” continued Gary, “Sheila and I took over the charity event after the police officers realized they didn’t have enough time or volunteers to help out with the time consuming program, which we renamed Santa’s Helpers in 2005. Thanks to Macon Helps sponsorship, we have continued to raise a tremendous amount of money during the year, with several businesses, individuals and organizations also graciously donating to our far reaching endeavor.”
Once again on Thursday, December 16th, Santa’s Helpers/Macon Helps spread the spirit of the holidays to 220 area children, whose families have been affected by the floundering economy. Parents needing a little help with presents this year, picked up toys, clothes and other Christmas surprises for their children at the Sally Wells Building, located at the Macon County Fairgrounds, here in Lafayette.
“We raised several thousand dollars in the annual Toy Run and Santa’s Helper Roadblock,” said Sheila Lowhorn, “along with cash donations, including coats and toys from Christina Chambers as well. We also had donation barrels at Walgreens and the Lafayette Dollar Store, while Christina had a drop off point at Cash Express.”
“The spirit of Christmas is taking the time to show people that you truly care,” said Christina, “and to embrace the true meaning of the holidays you should be willing to give of yourself, your time and your love. Do not think of the gifts that you give to others as an obligation, but think of it as a symbol of your love during the most wonderful time of the year. It seems so strange to me that we, as a society, require such fundamental reminders of what the season is all about. The true Christmas spirit illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in the lives of those less fortunate.”
“Macon Helps also distributes food baskets, along with other items for Christmas,” said Valerie Reid, “and if families don’t qualify through our poverty guidelines, then we can send them to Bledsoe, who have less restrictions. We also offer other programs including Terminal Illness, Fire Closet/Illness/Disaster/Domestic, Back to School, Funeral Expenses, Utilities, and others too numerous to mention.”
“We also want to express our gratitude to Doug Holder for helping us with clothes for all the children,” Sheila noted. “After submitting a list of children’s names and sizes, he puts items into shopping bags for us, and addresses them to each individual.”
“This time of the year is a wonderful opportunity to help those who are less fortunate,” said Gary, “and we would like to thank Mark Bailey from TSC, who donated a charcoal/gas grill to the Grim Reapers, who raffled it off for $604 along with help from the Macon Charity Riders, and a special thanks to all the local merchants. God bless you all!”
Santa Helpers/Macon Helps have already started planning for next year’s project, and anyone interested in joining this worthy cause, please call Gary Whitaker or Sheila Lowhorn. The Macon Helps board members include: Reba Bellar, Gaye Chamberlain, Sheila Lowhorn, Carol Kempf, Julia Burrows, Kathy Cothron, Gary Whitaker, Faye Fitzpatrick, John Barnes, Wanda O’Donoghue, Jason Draper and Bobby Sircy.