Timeless Angels

Operation Christmas Child landed at Pantego Bible Church a few weeks ago. Proudly, Jason, Molly, Bridget, Sydney and I, all participated. Yes, that’s right, one box per person. One child per person.

Bridget picked a 14yr old boy. Don’t ask me why. I gave her the choices and this three year old did not even hesitate. She wanted a “big” boy. And we shopped for “big” boy’s box. Tell me that’s not adorable.

Molly wanted a girl her age, so she could easily pick things that she would like. She got lots of wonderful little gifts for her five year old girl. Her box was the only one we couldn’t quite close the lid on. Heh!

Sydney picked a 10-14 year old girl. Her box had the most room it. Huh. Heeeeey, she forgot like underwear and stuff. Don’t worry I added to it.

Jason picked a 5-9 year old boy. Yes, he got to gift vicariously. The little trucks, coloring book, and even a baseball. He took such care to pack it all in. He definitely spent the most time finding exactly what he wanted for his little boy.

I picked a little girl 2-4 yrs old (of course). I think I packed the most expensive thing out of all the boxes. I wedged an electronic phone. It talks, it beeps, it rings. It even like says the alphabet backwards – okay forwards. What I’m trying to say is….It was a super cool toy.

Jason didn’t realize I had stuck that in there until he was checking the receipt (and why it was so expensive). Oops. In my defense, I offered to pay him back, and he declined.

Five boxes later, we had our Christmas Children shopped for. ALL of us were involved in the shopping, packing, and dropping at the Church. It was wonderful. The stage was overflowing with boxes. They let us know on collection Sunday, over 1,190 boxes were received. Wow! That is a lot of far away children having a very Merry Christmas.


Our boxes.

The last weekend in November also began the Oakcrest Angel tree. Oakcrest is a family crisis Church in the hood of Kennedale Texas. It is nestled back behind a porn shop, a strip joint, and a liquor store. Surrounding the Church you are likely to find prostitutes, drug dealers, ex-cons, and addicts. And let’s not forget – their children.

If you’ve ever attended Oakcrest, you understand. It’s not about organized religion. It’s about a place where they have nothing, absolutely nothing, and yet they still rejoice. Their hearts rejoice, and their spirits soar in hope. Pure, undiluted hope – or at least – the pursuit of it.

Oakcrest has a clothing shop, and a soup kitchen on Monday nights. On that night, a hot meal is served by volunteers, paid for by monetary donations from the Monday night Church service (the attendees being mostly these same people). After the service, a box of groceries is handed out to needy families for the week. So they can eat. Let that sink in for a moment. So they can eat.

I found my humble gratitude at Oakcrest. I saw what little they grasped in their hands, and how happy they were to have it. I saw their struggles, and pain in their faces, yet they still shined. I saw crumpled bills gently placed in the offering plate. I saw true life in those that desire just to be, in a better place, than where they were before.

The children that surrounded them, that loved them, that needed them. Precious lives, so deserving of gifts. So deserving of kindness from a stranger. Much like Operation Christmas Child, but on a much smaller scale.

The Oakcrest Angel tree represents these children. They are the recipients of the humble hearted who adopt them. Last year, I worked that tree – tirelessly. No one was adopting. The economy went to the dumps, and there wasn’t money to spend. So many were just trying to give to their own children. They could not even consider another child.

I could see these children in my mind’s eye. I knew them. I had read their applications. I knew the size of family they came from. If they had a Dad in prison, or not. I hurt for them, and by gosh, I wanted them to have a Christmas. They deserved something. Unashamedly, I became a salesman in my Church lobby. Yeah.

“See that one there, well HE has a brother. His tag is over here. Could you do both?”

“I personally know this kid, he is fourteen. He lives in a single parent home. He has it rough. He is great kid. Can’t you just take him? Just this one?”

“Look some of these kids have on their wish/toy list COAT. Can’t you just adopt them, so they can have a coat for Christmas?”

It was HARD. Every week went this way until the last Sunday. We had ten Angels left. I could have just sat on the floor and cried. Instead, I sent out A MILLION texts, begging. After my mad texting, three were left. I took one more (I already had three), the group leader took one, and Jason (via text) took the last little Angel. He had already taken one the week before. My last plea worked.

What a relief! ALL were adopted. ALL would have Christmas. ALL of them, for just one night, could forget their worries, and problems. For one night, they could be merry. They could be children.

One year later, the Oakcrest family tree has been up in the Church lobby for two weeks. One more Sunday of adoptions left (next Sunday), and there were 11 tags left on the tree at 12 noon this past Sunday. At 1215pm, after second service, I watched my Mom snatch the last Oakcrest Angel tag off the tree. Oh my heart. Instead of down to the wire, an ENTIRE Sunday remains with no Angels left. There were even people still walking up to the tree looking for a tag, to be told – they are all adopted. We have no more.

Heartfelt hugs, and cheers all around.

You see the Sunday before (the 1st Sunday of the lobby tree), I pulled twenty tags – YES TWENTY – to send to my sister in Houston. Last year, she heard me talk about these kids, and these families. She remembered how I begged, pleaded, shopped, bagged and delivered (all with a BROKEN right hand). She remembered, and she saved up $1,000.00 to give twenty of these kids a Christmas.


Angel tags from the Oakcrest Tree for my sister

When you figure out which ones are the Angels, the kids, or the ones adopting them, please let me know. Because I have no idea.

22 thoughts on “Timeless Angels

  1. Oh Angelia, and you ever wonder if you can do more????
    That was pure love in action, that came from your heart and you have filled everybody’s favorbank to the brim!
    I salute you for your kindness, your compassion AND your do-ing, your asking and having all the tags being sponsored.
    That was amazing what you did, YOU are amazing.
    You deserve every good you can possibly desire as you will keep spreading that around as well.
    Hugs to you, Wilma

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  2. Oh my God, what a beautiful, touching, and tear-jerking story. You had me halfway through, but it kept going deeper. Thank you for helping the kids and families you’ve helped; thank you for shining a spotlight on this type of selflessness at this time of year; thank you for letting me be witness to God’s love in action. Your words were like a sermon for my eyes… And I’m grateful.

    Best to you, and may all the love and energy you share be returned to you in miraculous ways!

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  3. Absolutely beautiful post. So inspiring to see you teaching your Children to give back. It makes them appreciate what they have all the more and they’ll teach their children too!

    We have an Angel tree at work as well and I chose 3 kids this year. Lauren is older now (with a real job!) so she asked me to pick one for her and she sent me the money. See it does work!

    I think this Christmas Day, we (lauren & I) are going to the local Women & Children in Distress to serve them Christmas dinner. I love doing those things ’cause lord knows had things been a little bit different we could have very well ended up there at some point. We were lucky.

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  4. Someone once told me when I was 25 the world is made up of givers and takers. I don’t really know if one can divide people that clearly.

    But if one can you’re a GIVER at the top of the list. This shows the beauty in your life and the love in your heart!

    I’m so glad to know you. You are JOY personified! Love ya, Tess

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  5. blissbait

    Oh BEAUTIFUL, MAGICAL, MOST WONDEROUS WOMAN!!! You are such a gift and delight on this planet. I am so honoured to know You!!! THANK YOU!!! Cheers and Namaste, Namaste, Namaste!!! 🙂

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  6. That is amazing! You are amazing!

    I wish we had things like that here in this small town, but no you got to go to the big city. I’m going to have to find out if there is something here that I haven’t heard about yet.

    Nice way to start the month of giving!

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  7. I am so proud of you for what you do for the children. And my heart is warmed to see that you’ve gotten your own children involved in the ‘caring for others’ message. We here in Augusta GA call our program White Christmas. My husband and I went and did our shopping for ‘our kids’ a couple of days ago. I had a 3-year old girl and he had chosen a 1-year old boy. What fun it was so shop for them, to know that we were contributing so much to make at least one special day for them.
    God bless you.

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  8. Peggy Nolan

    Ang – i was seriously going to tell you to send me five angels.

    Seriously.

    Next year – send me angels to shop for and give them a little happiness from a small town in NH.

    And pass me a tissue…

    Sending lots of love your way!

    Peggy

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  9. Blond Duck-I hope so. I hope the giving is passed down again, and again.

    Doraz-No price tag, so true! Thank YOU for coming by with your bubbly energy.

    Wilma-Love in action is right, but it wasn’t from me. 🙂 I was just a director of it. Thank you for your kind words, and precious thoughts.

    Megan-Thank you for your beautiful comment. It was heartwarming for me to read. I am grateful that you came by to visit, and grateful that you spread such warmth wherever you go!

    Peedee-That is wonderful news! You raised her well, and the gift was passed on. That is huge for a young person. Serving Christmas dinner to those ladies would be such a joyful thing to do. I know it would make them feel special. I can’t wait to hear about it.

    Tess-You are right, I’d rather GIVE. If I could I’d adopt them all! It lifts me up and that is what creates the love in my heart. Your comment is JOY personified. Thank you Tess, so much!

    My Kashi-You are welcome. I can’t imagine all that you have to do, moving right before Christmas. Reaching out to you with a BIG HUG! And a footrest. 🙂

    Bliss-As always, you make my heart smile and bounce. Cheers!

    Heather-Usually a Church might know? The only reason I knew was from Church. They work with several compassion agencies; Oakcrest, Arlington Pregnancy Center, Mission in Arlington, and a Women’s Shelter in Fort Worth. I had no idea so much need was all around. Plus they help an orphanage in Mexico. I bet you find just the right thing for you!

    Suzicate-I AM HONORED! Thank you for such a beautiful award! I will do it justice very soon.

    Weezer-I love doing the shopping! I always imagine their little beaming faces. We get to see them get their bags at Oakcrest. It is amazing! Thank you for reaching out, that is making a difference.

    Blond Duck-I love em! They are so cute. I added you to the blog roll. I want to get your childrens book for my boyfriends kids. They love to be read to.

    Peggy-I will! I sure will. They are precious children. Here is a tissue, and giving lots of love back to you.

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  10. Wow, Angelia! I am so proud to “know” such a caring and compassionate person. What a beautiful post and heartwarming story. You are setting such an invaluable example for Jason’s little ones that they will hopefully continue on in their adulthood. I’m pretty sure you can count yourself, Jason, the kids (and definitely your sister!) as members of the Angel guild! =)
    Mindy
    http://www.thesuburbanlife.com

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  11. Angelia,
    Angels come in all shapes, forms, and sizes.

    What I do know, is that you are one of them. What a beautiful gift you are giving to those who have so little. The line that really struck me was about handing out food – so they could eat for the week. Something I can’t even fully imagine – what that must be like.

    It reminds me of a church we partner with in downtown Milwaukee. Very much like the church you have described. And yet, the spirit is so, so strong within those walls. We have a giving tree for them, as well. I know my wife has picked up tags off of their. And I’ve also witnessed the joy in these kids form there – both at their church, and when we’ve bussed them to our church for vacation Bible school. What a joy and spirit they have…even though their worldly possessions be limited.

    Angelia, you shine amazing love out into the world…and I just continue to see this more and more every day….what a beautiful example of love you are!

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  12. what a great reminder that this is truly the season of giving! you have inspired me and my goal today is to discover some new ways to give this season in my community. blessings to you.

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  13. By giving to the least of your brothers, you, Jason, and the kids have already more than prepared your family for His Second Coming. And it’s only the second Sunday of Advent today.

    This is the best Christmas message you had given me. That in giving, you receive more. How I wish that we, down here, can adopt/adapt this program of yours. I will try this in my own yard. I have a five-foot Christmas tree outside for our neighborhood party (made of a dried jute plant from my vegetable garden) to start my launch with. Thank you.

    At this time of year, I have already my personal list of beneficiaries for my annual gift-giving, the same you do probably for your relatives. It’s a very small gesture of giving small packages containing rice, canned goods, noodles, coffee, milk, sugar to my needy relatives and neighbors, every morning of December 25. My 2 daughters Roma Raponcel and Julie Racquel hold this Christmas Party with games and contests for young and old alike, as the beneficiaries help themselves with a big vat of steaming soup.

    It’s nothing compared to yours, but I guess it’s the joyful time of celebrating Christmas as a small community that counts most to them, rather than the food and the goods.

    Thank you for reminding me the true essence of Christmas.
    MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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  14. Deedy

    A year ago I was in the middle of a very messy divorce, having had surgery that year, while working full time, and trying to pass Nursing school. I could not afford my own blood pressure medicine for three months that fall. I too was a single mom. Wondering how I could afford Christmas for my own two and a niece living with me.

    And a year later, I am healthy and whole for the first time in six years, I am in the process of buying Christmas for my own children. I received my heart’s desire for 14 years and am at last an RN at Texas Children’s hospital, and I am engaged to my very good friend of 14 years, and I was able to take 20 of your angels, and you know what?

    For this many blessings to fall down in just one short calendar year is impossible. No one woman could bring this to pass and she didn’t. Every blessing that has fallen into my heart and life, including being able to shop and provide for these dear children, is God, completely God. We are indeed his hands and his feet. And all things are possible through him. I am just very grateful to be a vessel from which he can be poured. And all of the joys that come with that. Knowing that no matter how dark the way, no matter how hopeless your situation is, he can turn it around in a moment. Either you trust him or you don’t. And when you do completely, he can step outside the box and do the most amazing things.

    Merry Christmas! It has certainly been one of my most precious and we are only on Day six of December!

    Love you,
    B. sis

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