Hope of the Season

Let me start by saying that I work for a non-profit. It’s a high school that serves those children who don’t do well in a traditional learning environment, with several of our teenaged students being parents. Our goal is to try to make sure that they don’t fall between the cracks of the system, to see that they’re able to complete their education, and to help them fulfill their potential in a world that far too often dismisses them.

I also don’t much care for children, but I rarely interact with any of them in my position. And the ones that I do are all good kids. Even most of our “bad” kids are ok…they just come from a world that I’m unfamiliar with. Several are homeless or “couch hopping”. Some aren’t even 18 and already have 2 children. But they’re still up at 5 in the morning to catch a bus by 6, with a stroller and children in tow, so that they can be at school on time in the morning.

Yesterday, we had a Christmas assembly for the kids, right before lunch. The choir sang and the theatre arts kids put on a slightly edited re-telling of A Charlie Brown Christmas (one of my all time favorite Christmas specials). Then Santa came out, and then our executive director gave the kids a bit of a Christmas surprise.

The Board of Directors that we’re governed by contributed some money so that each student currently enrolled in either the high school or GED program was able to receive a $20 gift certificate to Wal-Mart (we have around 150 students total). Now we all know that Wal-Mart is Evil Personified, but that’s not the point here. For some, this might be the only gift or kindness that’s shown to them, and they truly appreciated it.

Today, we had our Christmas party (and having been founded forever and an age ago by nuns, we do actually call it a Christmas party) and our ED read a couple of thank you letters written by students to our board. The first talked about how he’s never on time to school, but that this kindness and the faith shown in him by his teachers and the staff makes him want to be a better person, and when we come back from the break, he’ll do his best to be at school on time every day. The second talked about how thankful she was that she was going to have a little bit of money to buy her 2 children something for Christmas.

That was a common theme in all of the letters. No one talked about how they were going to spend the little bit of money on themselves, but on how it was going to enable them to make someone else’s holidays a little bit brighter.

And that gives me hope for the future.

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