Last week, our Nashville office had the opportunity to volunteer at the Salvation Army warehouse. We had no idea what we would be doing, and upon arrival learned that we would be “shopping” for the Forgotten Angels. Are you familiar with the Angel Tree program? Families that cannot afford to purchase gifts for their children can register their kids for the Angel Tree. A form that lists their clothing sizes, “want,” and “need” items is then placed on a tree in a mall for passerby to select, shop for, and then bring the gifts to the Salvation Army warehouse. Although it is a wonderful program that benefits numerous families around the country each year, there are holes in it. Unselected forms that are left on the trees signify the “Forgotten Angels” – kids that will not receive any Christmas gifts if left as is.
Our job at the warehouse was to take a Forgotten Angel form, and get the child his “needs,” and 2 medium sized toys or “wants” from a large selection of donated goodies in the middle of the warehouse. We put the gifts for each child into a large sack, reminiscent of Santa Claus (ho, ho, ho), and sorted them by family to be delivered. I was not expecting to become so easily attached to these faceless forms, but seeing items like “coat, shoes, undergarments, baby wipes, and diapers” listed as “needs” was incredibly sobering. It was so special to see my coworkers working together to find the best possible gifts for their Angels. While we will never know for sure, I like to imagine that the faces of our Angels will light up on Christmas morning when they see presents waiting for them under the tree. The part that we played was so trivial in the grand scheme of things, but it feels great to know that we made a small difference for these kids. As heart-wrenching as it is to think that the biggest concern for some of these children is where their next meal will come from, the fact that they will get to escape from reality for even a moment to unwrap their gifts and feel the joy of Christmas is what our volunteer experience was all about. That thought brings a smile to my face and a tear to my eye each time I think about it – how lucky are we that we had the chance to help these nameless Angels?
While we were working to give to the Forgotten Angels, they inadvertently also gave to us. Volunteering with Salvation Army was a great reminder of the reason for the season – spending time with people you care about, and helping others. Collectively, we have been so very blessed this year at Conexess, and want to say a heartfelt “thank you” to those of you who been part of our journey throughout 2014. We wish you Happy Holidays, and all the best in the New Year. We also encourage you to consider volunteering this holiday season – here are a few links to get you started in the Nashville area: