Birthdays in Cynthia and Allan’s home start about a week before the actual date. The two live in a smallish condo with their two young daughters. With space at a premium, their priority for the person about to have a birthday is first to give things away. “Each birthday, we ask our pastor if he knows of a family who might need some of our clothes or toys,” Cynthia says. “If so, we bring them to him to give away. If not, we give them to Goodwill.”
While the couple could easily sell the items on eBay or at consignment shops, this would not fit their philosophy of sharing with those in need.
In most cities, the needy and the affluent often live in parallel worlds, divided geographically as well as by income. A lack of affordable housing means that poorer families are priced out of wealthier areas and the correspondingly stronger schools. The result? Most people who are affluent do not personally know anyone who regularly gets groceries from a food bank or who sleeps at a shelter.
This means that if we want to clothe the naked or give shelter to the homeless, we must be intentional about it. And in the midst of a frenetic family life, taking care of the poor can fall too low on our priority list.
We give our time to that which is important. School and extracurriculars can drain a family of both disposable income and extra time. Yet giving all of our family’s resources to our own children’s development and none to the development of the needy children on the other side of the interstate does not square up with gospel values. Christ repeatedly calls us to the poor. If we wait until life slows down to respond to this call, we risk not responding at all.
Amy and Kevin, parents of three, believe they are giving a gift to their children by teaching them the importance of serving the poor. “It is important each Christmas for my family to work in the Daughters of Charity Christmas shop where low-income families come to shop with vouchers for their children,” Amy says. “My sons and daughter see the parents struggle with the fact that they cannot afford Christmas gifts. They learn the true meaning of Christmas.” …continued next week
By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our Faith, Claretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2014 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for four years running. Here’s a sample issue.
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Claretian Photo by Antonio Lopez