It's the Christmas season. A time of high emotions. Excitement, anticipation, happiness, love. Benevolence runs high. An outpouring of generosity is felt by area charities.
I was driving one of the Kinship kids home from our downtown Brainerd center. I had a turkey along with all the "fixings" for his family -- a donation from a caring church group. Just making conversation, I said, "Boy, I bet your mom will be surprised to see all this good food!" The boy replied, "Yeah, she sure will. We already have two turkeys!"
Oh my! All the best laid plans ... as the saying goes. I'm sure they will make good use of the extra food, but wouldn't it be great if those three extra special meals came at different times of year? It's so natural for those of us who have more than others to want to share our wealth during these holidays. The biggest gift we can give, however, is one that is harder than buying a turkey, or dropping a five-dollar bill in the red kettle. It's the gift of time.
Volunteer mentors give this gift week after week. Somehow in their busy schedules they are able to carve out a few hours to spend with a special child. Even it if is merely an hour after school or a quick trip grocery shopping or a few rounds of 'horse' on the basketball court, it is time that says, "You're important to me."
Week after week, the readers of this column hear about a boy or girl who is waiting for a Kinship partner. Some weeks we are inundated with calls for a particular child; other times, no one calls at all. For the child who is waiting, the time seems an eternity. Chad has been waiting for more than a year. That's an eternity for a 10 year old! His brother and sister already have partners, so he's doubly anxious to cash in on the fun he sees them having. Sometimes volunteers wonder if they will be able to find enough to do with the child, or whether they'll run out of conversation. Not with Chad! He's talkative, interesting, and willing to try most any activity. And he's not opposed to working a little either! He's a regular trooper at Kinship community service projects and fundraising efforts.
As you prepare for the holidays, it's important to share with others. A donation to your favorite charity, buying a gift for the giving tree at your church, or dropping a contribution in the Salvation Army bucket are all great ways to help others in need.
Making the commitment to being a mentor is taking your benevolence a step higher. You know the warm glow you feel when you contribute to the office pool to buy gifts for the women's shelter. You're experienced the good feelings that come with volunteer efforts. Being a mentor has another, more visible reward.
It's the grin on a kid's face when you arrive to take him fishing or to eat at his favorite fast food place. You can be a part of this scene by calling the nearest Kinship Partners office. Brainerd, 829-4606; Crosby, 546-7308; or Pequot Lakes, 568-4015.
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