For almost two years now, I have been writing reviews for Family Christian. It may be books, movies, music, etc… and I really enjoy it. BUT, my most favorite thing to participate in are their giving back campaigns. In a nutshell, when a giving back campaign is launched, the bloggers submit who they would want to give a gift to and why. Then a few of us are selected. This is my second time giving back. The first time, I was able to bless Una Esperanza with Bibles to take with them on their last mission trip.
This time, it is a little bit closer to home.
A few months ago my middle school aged daughter called me to pick her up from school early, she was feeling sick. Bible study was just ending, and I headed straight to her school. I was wearing a tshirt with a bible verse on it, and had thrown my wallet into my tote bag for the study. Since the school needed my ID, I just grabbed the tote on my way in. As I was waiting for my daughter to get to the office from the clinic, the school secretary read the verse on my shirt aloud. The Dean’s assistant was standing next to her, and made a comment about it. I responded that I had just come from our weekly bible study meeting. To which they looked at each other, and the secretary said “Isn’t that nice.”
It was a tone I recognized all to well, the sound of voice we have when someone else is getting to do something we would enjoy but don’t have time for. When Family Christian wanted to do a holiday giving back campaign, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I nominated these two women, who work tirelessly for our school. I wanted to give them an opportunity to study together during their lunch break at the school. I shared the story of the encounter and what I would give them. And, I was selected to participate.
Family Christian sent me a $50 gift certificate to purchase items from their site.
I selected Jen Wilken’s “Women of the Word”, some multi-colored bible study markers, and journals they could write notes in through their study.
At our local dollar tree I was able to purchase some pretty paper, ribbon, and snowflakes to wrap the gifts in. I wanted the gifts to look like something special, so they knew that extra effort was put into their gift. (Usually, I am a gift bag kind of gal for gifts to teachers).
I stacked each package, putting the journal on the bottom since it was the longest. The book landed in the middle and the markers on top. It was perfect! I wrapped a ribbon around the length of the package, and topped with the snowflake. I used elmer’s school glue to ensure the snowflake would stay put.
On the day I delivered the packages to the middle school, I was surprised to be honest. In the elementary school my youngest attends, I saw parents dropping off gifts to the office staff each morning leading toward the last day before break. In the middle school office, there was nothing. Ms. S, was at her desk as Christamsy as she could be. Santa hat on her head, and a Christmas Light necklace adorned her school tshirt. Yet, there were no gift bags from parents to be seen. Apparently something happens when kids enter middle school and high school. Less parents are giving teachers gifts, and even less (and in our case apparently none) were including the front office staff.
The Principal was standing near by, as I let her know I was dropping of a gift to her and Ms. Jones (the Dean’s assistant). The look on her face, could not have been more shocked. The Principal started showering her with accolades, acknowledging all that she did for the school. All the while she was hustling her way around the counter to give me a hug. As she approached there were tears in her eyes. She was so grateful that someone appreciated her, that someone was acknowledging her, that she was remembered. I don’t know much about Ms. S. Is she married? Does she have children? Was she alone for Christmas? What I do know is that I made her day, and I wouldn’t have done it without Family Christian giving me the nudge.
Ms. Jones was already out of the office for the day, but I left the gift for her. I received a card a few days later.
The funny thing about all of this is that I thought Family Christian was allowing me an opportunity to give a gift that would encourage two women to study together when they can. In reality the gift was more than that. I was the one who received the greatest gift, because it opened my eyes to those who work tirelessly for our children… and often go unrecognized.
Whether it is Christmas, Teacher Appreciation Day, the end of the school year… or just a random Wednesday… take the opportunity to recognize the people in the schools working behind the scenes. Especially so for our middle and high school support staff and administration. Secretaries, Cafeteria Workers, Custodians/Janitors, etc are all people who are making an impact on the school your children attend.
A few days ago, my high school daughter shared that she wished the Cafeteria cashier a Merry Christmas… she replied:
“You are the first person to say that to me all week.”
This year is almost over, but the school year still has a few months ahead. I challenge anyone who reads this (even if you kids do not attend school), what can you do in the coming months as a way to show appreciation to the people in your life that may be working behind the scenes… unnoticed, unrecognized? People like:
The cleaning crew that comes in to the office after hours.
The teller at the bank who always serves you.
The grocery store cashier, the one you make a point of getting into his or her line because they do a good job.
The high school janitor.
The golf course grounds keepers.
The local police department or fire house.
School Crossing Guards, office security guards, the neighbor who always brings up your trash can, church secretaries, the mechanic who saved you a ton of money this year, etc. If you are unsure who to recognize, pray that God will reveal the person to you. Or, that He will provide the funds or means to recognize all of the people you desire to acknowledge.