Poet Annie Johnson Flint wrote:
"His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again."
Now that the leftovers from Thanksgiving are finally gone and the anticipation of the Christmas season is upon us, we at Catholic Charities want to reflect on the past few weeks. I guess more accurately the reflection should include the last few months. Although our reflection was about the recent Thanksgiving blessings, we realized it was also about a whole lot more.
As we began to plan our annual Thanksgiving basket distribution in early September we knew the need this year could be doubled from last year. This was based on the fact that the number of families we were feeding each month had increased to over 350 families. How could we go from providing a Thanksgiving meal for 170 families last year to potentially 350 families this year?
At first we thought we would sign-up any income eligible families that needed the meal and then draw names after we determine how many Thanksgiving baskets we could come up with. This seemed the fairest way.
In discussing this with Father Don Higgs at St. Brendan's parish he felt that we should come up with the 350 baskets if that was the need. We then began to reach out to local churches and organization for their assistance. Father Don asked the parishioners at St. Brendan and St. Patrick's parishes, "If you donated a Thanksgiving basket last year, do two this year." And they did. We received over 220 baskets from the two churches.
Other area churches gave abundantly as well. Through the hard work and generosity of our volunteers and the community we were able to provide 350 families with a chicken or turkey and the other items needed to prepare their Thanksgiving meal.
In the meantime while all the planning for Thanksgiving and our need for help was being heard, in came "Sandy."
How could we even talk about Thanksgiving, people were without power, food, water and in some cases their homes?
As everyone well knows, in some cases whole communities were isolated by impassable roads.
That's when the true spirit of His love stepped into this community. That's not to say that this community isn't always generous; it is. But I think the consequences of Hurricane Sandy widened the hearts of so, so many.
The Elkins Rotary Club and Randolph County Schools joined together and organized a food drive. They brought Catholic Charities over 2,500 pounds of food in a two-week period.
Other individuals and groups also brought in food, often weighing from 100 to more than 500 pounds. The blessings continued to flow in each day. The Sunshine Lady Foundation, Inc. sent us and Tyrand Parish a wonderful monetary donation, as did other individuals, businesses and organizations. The list is so long I won't mention names for fear of forgetting someone.
The blessings did not just come in a physical form but also in the joy experienced by both the giver and the receiver. We have the pleasure of the services of over 40 volunteers each month. We at Catholic Charities could not do what we do without each and every one of these dedicated folks.
Words cannot capture what has been going on here in our community and here at Catholic Charities. However, we want to say "thank you" to all those who have joined us in making a world of difference to our neighbors throughout this past year. Thank you in advance for your continued support and to those who plan to join us on this mission.
Cynthia S. Hammer, MA, is the regional director of Catholic Charities West Virginia.