Adopt a Family

This year for Christmas we decided to sign up for Adopt a Family through the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.  We discussed that instead of exchanging gifts with one another, it would be much more meaningful to use that money for someone who needed it and would appreciate it more.

I had so many ideas in my mind about what this experience would be like.  I was sure that Justyn and I would end up shopping together for a bunch of toys, dolls, little people clothes, and coloring books.  Then, we would work together to wrap the gifts for the kids – kinda like the elves at the North Pole!  It would be this magical holiday moment that we would share together as the perfect newlywed couple.

I could not have been more WRONG!

I was disappointed, distressed, and surprised by the entire process.   To be completely honest, I went on an emotional roller-coaster ride this weekend.  Yes, there were tears.  But in the end, I could not be happier with the result and can’t wait to “adopt” our 2nd family next year!

Here are the highlights and low-points of my experience (my thoughts included):

  • At sign up, we asked for a family with 1 boy & 1 girl.  We were surprised when they were not little kids, they were actually teenagers (13 & 17).
  • They explained that we should drop off the gifts unwrapped and provide gift wrap for the parents so they can do the wrapping themselves.  Ok, ok.  I get this, it will mean a lot to the parents just to be able to wrap their own children’s gifts.  It’s got to be tough enough not being able to buy the gifts themselves.
  • The list of gift ideas provided for the girl only included one item:  Gift Cards.  Total bummer here, what in the world will I get for this girl???  She just wants money to pick-out and buy her own things!  But really, what girl doesn’t want that?
  • The list of gift ideas provided for the boy only included two things:  a Bike and/or Skateboard.  First off, the bike is not going to fall between the $75-$100 limit.  Maybe the skateboard, but I don’t know anything about what kind to get.  Plus we’re supposed to get at least 3 gifts… this big purchase wouldn’t leave much left for other items.
  • A list of clothing sizes was included for the boy, so that was a plus.  This might be something I can work with.
  • After a few weeks of brainstorming stressing about gift ideas for this family, I finally felt somewhat ready to go shopping.  I just want them to like the gifts, to appreciate the effort, and most importantly to feel satisfied by our small donation.  
  • Lately Justyn has been super busy and stressed with work, so I didn’t even want to ask if he’d like to go shopping with me.  Better just leave him at home, I’ll find what I’m looking for faster without him.
  • While shopping, I surprisingly felt like I was easily finding some great gifts for these kids.  I was actually excited about what I had purchased, I really felt like I did a good job.  But what if they don’t like these things, what if I was completely off-track thinking they would like what I picked out?
  • On the way home, I couldn’t wait to see Justyn and show-off what I got.  But something was wrong, I felt sick.  I had this sudden pang in my chest, stomach, heart, somewhere.  I had no idea where it was coming from!
  • At home, I started sorting through all the gifts.  I was really excited now, I definitely found some awesome things!  Then, out of nowhere, I started crying… I couldn’t stop it… and I was officially a mess.
  • Poor Justyn was summoned to help me out.  We talked forever about what could be bothering me:  maybe I’m homesick, maybe I’m stressed, maybe I’m just tired?  But, I kept coming back to my feelings about the Adopt a Family.  I was so worried whether or not they would like the gifts.  But, why?  
  • I started feeling a little better after my chat with Justyn.  I began looking over the “rules” to make sure I had everything covered for this donation.  Then, I noticed something.  There was a faint section of writing,  like a message that had been half-way erased.  It was a note from the mom that read: “Thank you for your generosity, it is very much appreciated.  If it wasn’t for this, my kids would not have a Christmas this year.”  Here it comes, the flood of emotions!  Tears, everywhere.  Of course they will like our gifts!  They wouldn’t have anything to open on Christmas if it wasn’t for us.
  • In the end, I feel good… really good.  I am so happy we decided to do this and I am so happy we got this particular family.  What a special experience for me.  I’m glad this wasn’t what I expected, that just made it so much better!

Long story over, here’s what they got:

138For the 13 yr-old boy:  Hooded Sweatshirt, T-shirt, Belt, Watch, Stocking Cap, A Desktop Bowling Game, and Candy.

139For the 17 yr-old girl:  Crazy Socks, Seventeen Magazine, Journal, Funky Wallet, 3-way Gloves, Nail Polish, Gift Cert. to Target, and Candy.

140For the parents/family:  Wrapping Paper, Gift Boxes, Tape, Ribbon, Bows, and a Grocery Store Gift Card (for their Christmas dinner).


6 comments on “Adopt a Family

  1. That is AWESOME! May God bless you guys, and I know he will. I am a 9-1-1 dispatcher and every year the Sheriff’s Office puts together a big to-do called Santa Patrol. We have folks calling constantly from about September until Christmas eve. We do it near the end of November each year so most folks know when to come or see it on the news, in the papers, etc. If never fails, we accept between 200-300 applications and with in 15 minutes they are gone!!! I think it’s great that the community comes together to help others. I just really hate the way some take advantage of it. We had to start a new thing this year where they had to turn in the app and then wait a few minutes for us to call every local organization that was doing similar gift assistance to make sure they weren’t on the list. Some folks were making fictisious names or going to every organization and racking up. I think the saddest part was last year, on pick up day, we followed several of them right from the Sheriff’s Office down to Walmart where they returned the items, took the cash and went home. Those kind of people make me terribly sick. It’s sad that there are people out there that REALLY need the assistance but don’t get it because we run out of apps that are wasted on people like that. Or when they roll up to pick up their items driving a $60,000 car, got more diamonds on one hand then you and I have put together and solid gold earrings or chains that could sink the Titanic. I understand that wealthy people can fall on hard times and those may have been things they acquired before they had financial troubles, but before your take something someone else really NEEDS, how about pawning one of those earrings, pendants, or rings, or maybe selling that vehicle you can’t afford or the rims that cost more than my monthly salary.

    Sorry to go off the deep end, I just hate to see people taking advantage of what is meant to be a good thing for those who need it. I can’t believe they erased that part from the mother. You can bet that if she took the time to write that, then she truly was thankful. Hope you guys have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas. I’m sure those two kids will! 🙂

  2. Thanks for your comment Stephanie. It’s nice to hear other’s opinions. Merry Christmas to you too!

  3. Bex – I’m glad you followed through! Leave it to you to get so anxious about what these complete strangers will think of the wonderful gifts you’ve generously considered for them. If only they knew how much thought you put into their gifts. I love that you gave the parents gift wrap and store card.

    Each year our department adopts a family and we all take a few things from their list to purchase. This was the first year I participated. I was so excited to buy a fun toy or clothes for the kids. When I went to the tree to check out what was left to buy, it humbled me to see the parents had asked for items such as bed sheets. For whatever reason it caught my attention and instead of buying the fun toys or clothes for the children, I took each of the parents’ names and bought their much needed items.

    Perhaps it reminded me how lucky I am to take for granted items like bed sheets.

    Thank you for sharing your story! I’m positive the family you’ve adopted will appreciate each item more than you’ll ever know.

    Love ya girl!

    • That’s awesome Jerin! So amazing of those parents to ask for such a simple necessity. You’re right, it just reminds us how lucky we are for the things we take for granted everyday.

      Love you too, and Thanks for the comment!

  4. I couldn’t help but laugh, and cry reading through this Beck! You guys have such big hearts and I think it is so great that you guys are doing this! I have been wanting to adopt a family as well and thinking about the note the mom wrote makes me want to do this even more so thank you for sharing your story.

    Miss you sooooo much!!! While I was reading this I couldn’t help but picture you telling me this story while sitting at my kitchen table you wine glass in hand and me miller lite and Rick and Justyn discussing “work stuff” in the living room. LOL. I miss our nights in:(

    Love you<3

    • Awe, thanks Jenn! Your comment about makes me want to cry… I miss you too. You know I would’ve told you that whole story with all the ugly details while sipping on my wine! LOL.

      P.S. You and Rick should totally do this next year! I bet Sam and the boys would love to help out.

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