give the gift of love this christmas
today you get to see right into Jennifer Evans’ heart… Jen is a fabulous artist, a completely devoted mom and loving wife…she lives her faith on her sleeve and has such a genuine, generous spirit! she is literally a breath of fresh air! i love what she shares today… a different kind of inspiration:
Before the crash I use to see homeless people when we went to a big city or downtown by the Mission. Now, I see someone holding a cardboard sign at almost every corner of town. There has been a drastic change in this city and probably all over the country. This time of year can be hard on those homeless or hungry as the weather gets colder. I don’t know about you, but it is hard to turn my face away while I sit in my car at a red light. My son is also old enough to read their signs and ask questions about why they are hungry.
By no means is my family wealthy. But, we are thankful every day for the roof over our heads, our warm bed, and food on the table. I can remember times in my life where I didn’t and God provided some way, some how. I remember times in my life where a small act of kindness helped me. So our family does random acts of kindness (RAK) to remember those in need, right in our own neighborhood.
I decided to hand out hot coffee to those homeless standing on the street corners with a beautiful tag to show that I really thought of them. It is one thing to give them coffee but it is another to show them that I really care and took the time to show them kindness.
To create these tags, I used Tim Holtz’ Sizzix Die Cut and Pink Paislee City Sidewalks paper. Then I folded the bottom to the top of the tag to make a little pocket. Inside this pocket you can add a verse, note of encouragement, or even cash. I then started layering some Vintage Chic punches, Black and White Letters, Definition Stickers, and Tinsel Color Shine misted seam binding for ribbon.
Afterwards, I went to Starbucks and ordered the travel coffee carrier. They give you a large container of coffee that serves 12, along with the cups, lids, and drink carriers, for only $12.99. I quickly came home and my husband and I filled the cups and placed the tags on the outside.
I hopped in my car and drove to find those in the cold needing a warm cup of coffee. I actually found five in one parking lot. Then, I drove by the front of Walmart and saw a teenager ringing her bell for The Salvation Army, yawning in queue. I rolled down my window and offered her a cup and her smile was awesome. Within fifteen minutes I had already given away eight cups of coffee.
Lastly, I drove by a man in a digger. It looked like he was clearing away a plot to get ready to build a house. I noticed it really wasn’t a construction site and thought about how cold it must be to be out there working. So, I drove up and took the whole carrier out so I didn’t look like a spectator with her own cup of joe. He backed all the way up to me and I offered him a cup. He was so surprised and as he took it said, “So, why are you doing this- or is it just out of the kindness of your heart?” After I told him it was “just because”, he sincerely thanked me.
I wonder how much it would mean to those around us if we just showed a little kindness every once and a while.
Here are a few more RAK that my family love to do especially during this time of year….
- We read Too Many Toys by David Shannon and then clean our toys out to give to the local Women’s Shelter
- We have Saint Nicholas Day and fill up stockings with fruit, chocolate coins, and small gifts. Then we sneak and leave them on the door step of a neighbor without them knowing. We were only caught once when my son was two years old. It was a little hard for him to walk anywhere quietly. The neighbor saw us from the window and was so moved by the gift that she filled it back up with new items and left it the next day at our own door. Believe me. My son’s reaction was priceless!
- We fill storage bags with dollar beanies, gloves, snack foods and we call these ‘Good Samaritan Bags’. Then we leave them in our car so that if we see a homeless person on the side of the road we give them one.
- Purchase peanut butter, jam, loaves of bread, and plastic spoons. I gather them into bags and leave them in the back seat as well.
- Warm fleece or weather proof blankets tied with a Christmas bow.
- We gather books from our collection that are “like new” and give them to the local Women’s Shelter.
- I have my son order a meal from McDonald’s. He orders it off the menu and we are not there to eat ourselves. He orders (sometimes a very large and random meal) and then he is responsible to “look” for someone to give it to. This is his time to learn how to think of others other than himself.
- A tradition from my childhood in the military was to bake a plate of cookies and sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” to those that were on duty on Christmas day. I continued that tradition as a teacher and had the children sing to the janitors of the school (when do they ever get recognized during the season?). Now as a mom, we change who we sing to every year.
When you take the time to give to someone homeless, make sure to kindly ask them their name. You will be surprised at the look in their eyes when you do. Help them see that they really mean something to you. Now that you know their name, write it down on Post-its in your car. Then, as you drive you can sit and pray or think of that person. When you do, Bob isn’t just another homeless guy on the street but someone you know. Then, the next time you see Bob and you call him by name, believe me, his heart will melt and you have just given him a gift that is priceless – Love.
I challenge you to do something for someone else this Christmas! If you do we would love to see a photo! Post your photo on Instagram and tag @heidiswapp with the hashtag #heidiswappRAK12
i just LOVE these ideas, and intend to ‘lift’ them, and share some love! This is what Christmas is all about! Thank you so much Jennifer! you are just amazing!