November 25, 2010
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
- From The Prophet by Kahil Gibran
I am always being asked the question, "Do you know a family in need that could use some help?" Our Y would not exist without gifts of time, treasure, and talent from so many that contribute when asked and unasked.
This time of year always brings those unsolicited inquiries that result in some amazing blessings.
A week ago on Thursday, November 18, our Y neighbor Marie Tuthill stopped by my office to return a basketball that had bounced over the fence to her construction company lot on the corner of YMCA and Imperial. The ball had the name of it's owner on it and she asked if we could return it to the youngster. Marie shared how she was helping support several Thanksgiving efforts around town and she asked about ours (The Turkey Project we hosted last year for the first time distributed 800 Thanksgiving Dinner grocery bags the Saturday before Thanksgiving in 2009).
I told her it was not going to happen, then it did.
Marie returned with a blessing that allowed us to go shopping at the College Grove WalMart for enough groceries to fill 100 Thanksgiving Dinner Bags thanks to Store Manager Rick Balke. Then within minutes Camille Bacus of the LaDainian Tomlinson Touching Lives Foundation called to let me know that L.T.'s former Charger teammate Terrell Fletcher would be taking over the big Thanksgiving Dinner grocery bag distribution at the WalMart on Broadway in Chula Vista and would we be able to distribute 250 vouchers for Tuesday morning.
Waiting in the wings was the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils. Eleanor Spuhler had been planning a community service project for twenty volunteers from all over the country that agreed to stay in San Diego on Saturday, November 20 after the conclusion of their national conference that week. Our discussion began months ago when we thought The Turkey Project would repeat on this date.
The NAEPC volunteers stepped off the bus at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 20. After a brief briefing, they reviewed the 800 nominations (READ HERE) from 2009 and started calling families to come to the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA to pick up a Thanksgiving Dinner Grocery Bag or voucher to the Hope in the City event the following Tuesday. Around 10:30 a.m. the heavy lifters climbed the JRYMCA bus to go on the College Grove WalMart shopping spree. Turkeys, sacks of potatoes, stuffing, canned goods, pies, whipping cream, bread, etc.. were all loaded into number 1947 - in the rain. It was still raining when they arrived at the Y and unloaded the same, then started assembling the dinner bags. Everything was gifted by the time they left at 3:00 p.m. and before they left, NAEPC left behind a significant contribution to help support The Turkey Project.
Today, 350 families will celebrate Thanksgiving thanks to these angels.
Let me tell you about one of them.
Suzy and Jesse Marin loaded their five children in the car after receiving the call and drove to the Y to pick up their groceries. If you looked up the word APPRECIATION in the dictionary you might find their picture right next to it. In between the thank yous and hugs I might have seen a tear or two.
Jesse works at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation Coming Home to Stay, prisoner re-entry program. After unloading the family and groceries on Saturday, he received a call from a recently released prisoner living in El Cajon that was in need of food for his family.
You know the rest.
Suzy & Jesse and the kids and the groceries were back in the car to help feed a family that could not wait until Thanksgiving. On the return trip home with the rain falling harder now, Suzy was merging onto southbound I-125 from westbound I-8. The front left tire had a blowout and forced the car loaded with the Marin Family into a roll over accident that left one of the 8 year old twins in critical condition. Jesse broke his jaw and eye socket. His head injury required surgery. His jaw is now wired shut his boy has a broken nose, he lost all his teeth and his eye was cut. He too had major surgery.
Yesterday, I received this message:
How are you doing?
Well, I’m checking in to see if you have a family for us to “adopt” for Christmas. Would love to have one about 4 to 6 people, if possible. No hurry, but please let me know if we can help someone.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and holiday weekend!
The answer is YES!
I called Suzy and Jesse last night to check in on their status and connect them with Denise. All have been released from the hospital and are working towards recovering from this devastating accident. During the call not once did I hear any despair about their condition. The car was totaled. There was no discussion about the injuries and trauma that will follow. All I heard was an enthusiastic thanksgiving to God that their family is alive and what sounded like tears of joy when told about Denise's request.
I think we've found a perfect fit for the Cooper Family!
Thanks to all that give to help so many. You are spending your heaven doing good on earth!