by Vance Morton, Hagar’s Heart Volunteer
Have you ever experienced a “Christmas Miracle?”
I’m not talking about the kind of miracle where you somehow find the last of the completely sold-out, hottest toy of the season, on a high rack, in the home and garden department behind some bags of colored mulch – though, that’s pretty cool. What I am referring to is a Grinchy heart-growing-three-sizes-that-day level miracle. It is also the gift I received last year from a Hagar’s Heart Santa’s Shack event.
Giving to those who are struggling financially, emotionally, anxiously during the Christmas season, is a joy, long-infused in my soul, by the example and actions of my mom. She always found a way to help others enjoy Christmas, even in years when two nickels to rub together would’ve been a luxury. Giving to others had morphed from joy to obligation for me, in the last 10+ years. Embarrassingly, I had allowed myself to become jaded by what I perceived to be people who were “gaming the system” and claiming a need that really didn’t exist. Also, those who made a big deal out of collecting donations and boastfully dropping them off for all their peers to see and applaud, always left a sour taste in me.
So, when my lovely bride invited me to help at Santa’s Shack in 2022, my immediate reaction was a skeptical eye roll. Thankfully, she ignored the cynical vibe I put out and reminded me of my eagerness to be an active part of a Hagar’s Heart event.
Our all too brief time with the children and mothers at a partner shelter, was a powerful reminder of why it is so important to give of your time and be with those who need to know: kindness, support, healing, and love, are very much still alive and available to them – and not just at Christmas, but all year ‘round.
If you read a little more on what the Santa’s Shack’s are all about, you can easily envision the smiles and tears of joy that come from the simple act of providing children the opportunity to shop for Christmas gifts, to give their mom. Or, the gratefulness from a mom for time alone, to breathe for a moment in this unimaginably stressful situation.
My Santa’s Shack experience did not disappoint. It was a very matter-of-fact statement by one of our younger guests that pierced my heart, mind, and soul:
“This is my favorite shelter ever!” excitedly exclaimed.
When I tearfully inquired as to why a 5/6-year-old child would have a “favorite” shelter, I learned that all too often it requires multiple attempts for those in abusive relationships to break the cycle, and our young hero had likely been in shelters like the one we were serving that day. The simple act of being able to “shop for Mom,” brought the child profound joy.
It is that simplicity that makes me such a fan and eager supporter of Santa’s Shack and all things Hagar’s Heart. HH truly understands and lives the axiom that we are not called to do the miraculous – that’s the role of the Divine – all we are asked to do is bring a couple of fish and some bread in order for the multitudes to be fed. What is accomplished by the simplicity of packing and sharing the “I See You” boxes, or bringing Santa’s Shack to North Texas partner shelters, of providing the healing and caring love of Jesus, by simply letting survivors of domestic abuse know they are not alone, but they are seen, worthy, and loved.
If the giving spirit of Christmas has become hard to find in your life, I urge you to see how you can support Santa’s Shack.
Maybe a Christmas Miracle awaits you as well.