Giftmas 2017 — Working Together To Help a Stranger

Today is my day for the blog exchange, and I’m lucky enough to have Rhonda Parrish, who organized the Giftmas Blog Tour.

Here is her story. Enjoy!

Working Together to Help a Stranger

Rhonda Parrish

When Eileen and I were discussing what my topic should be for this blog post she suggested I might want to share a funny story about Christmas lights… and I would like to share a funny story about Christmas lights, but I don’t have one. So I’d have to make one up… which, I mean, that’s kind of my job — making things up and writing them down — but do you think I could come up with a single funny idea? No chance. So then I thought, “Okay, I’ll talk about a different kind of light that’s important to me this season — the candle light that is a part of my family’s advent tradition.” Then I remembered I’d blogged about that already…

The theme for the tour is ‘Shining a Light’ so I pondered that for a while. When was a time that I had shone a light into someone else’s life? And it hit me. It’s amazing I hadn’t thought of it before because it is one of my very favourite Christmas stories ever. And it’s totally true.

It happened about fifteen years ago, right around this time of year. My daughter, who was five at the time, had way too many toys and I knew she was going to end up with a whack of new ones come Christmas. So, after having a conversation with her about charity and giving to those who have less than us, I worked with her to go clear out her toy box. We separated all the toys into ‘Keep’, ‘Giveaway’ and ‘Garbage’. We did the same for the videos (VHS more than DVD if I remember correctly) and I even added some books to the ‘Giveaway’ pile. Then I went on the local freecycle page and offered all the giveaway stuff to whoever could come pick it up.

Shortly after all the items were spoken for and picked up I received an email from a woman asking for them. In her letter she explained how she was a single mom and was out of work. She said Christmas was looking like it was going to be pretty bleak around her house but that those toys and videos could go a long way to filling out the space beneath her tree.

I didn’t want to tell her I couldn’t help her, but all the items I’d offered on freecycle had been picked up. 

However, it just so happened that I was the moderator of a relatively active set of forums, so I went to the forums and explained the situation. I was straight-up with the members there, telling them I didn’t know this woman and at all for all I knew she could be conning me but for whatever reason I believed her and I wanted to help. Many people said they would be happy to pitch in so I went back to the woman and asked her to create a wishlist on Amazon for herself and her kids and share the link with me. That way people could contribute to her Christmas while still protecting her privacy.

That forum community sprang into action. People from all over the world–Canada, USA, The Netherlands, England–all pitched in. Not only did we combine together to buy every single item off her wishlist, people also found ways to donate gifts through programs like Air Miles that allow points to be turned into presents and gift cards that she could spend on whatever she wanted.

That lady was so happy and I was incredibly proud. Proud that I had helped a whole bunch of strangers come together to do something good.

Like I say, I didn’t know that woman so it could have all been a scam of some sort, but I prefer to believe otherwise. I like to think that we shone a light into her holidays and made them a little more bright.

***

Rhonda Parrish is driven by a desire to do All The Things. She founded and ran Niteblade Magazine, is an Assistant Editor at World Weaver Press and is the editor of several anthologies including, most recently, Equus and Mrs. Claus.

In addition, Rhonda is a writer whose work has been in publications such as Tesseracts 17: Speculating Canada from Coast to Coast and Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing (2012 & 2015). She also co-wrote a paranormal non-fiction title, Haunted Hospitals, with Mark Leslie.

Her website, updated weekly, is at http://www.rhondaparrish.com

And remember, as always, that now is the season for giving and the Edmonton Food Bank is a wonderful place to start! Every dollar raised makes three meals, so even a dollar helps!

And don’t forget yourself! Go below and get your name in for the fantastic prizes!

 

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