IMPACTING OUR COMMUNITY FOR 31 YEARS
Here at TIPS On Art we embark on a community service adventure each holiday season to bring joy to families we are matched with through community partners. It is important to us to develop a relationship in our process with these families throughout the season so they have a chance to get to know us and us them. Occasionally, we get to stay connected with our new friends as their lives continue to evolve and their children grow up. It is our honor to witness their evolution always. When we first meet, we ask them for their holiday wish lists and set forth to network and manifest as many of the wishes as we can. The lists usually do not include things like beds, new flooring, window coverings, appliances to replace their broken ones, car repair needs, rent backlog, pantry cabinets, and more. But as we get to know them, we see that these things can better their lives at home and alleviate some stress so they can go to school and work and be successful there. We witness true miracles every year in the way everything comes together for our Holiday Adopted Families...perfect every time even though we had no idea how to make it all happen in the beginning. We are so blessed and thankful for our volunteers and donors (new and ongoing) for helping with all the special details and networking within their own networks to creatively solve for the goals of each family. Our wrapping party volunteers make all the visual delight of Christmas really come together! We are especially proud to acknowledge everyone who has donated beds of all shapes and sizes over the years so every child who needs it has their own bed and pillow to lay their heads on at night. Here are just a few of the many stories that have happened over the years so you can know the difference each and every person makes in raising up the life of a fellow human being. Enjoy!
Each year, without fail, one of the most exciting moments is when we finally open the back of the trailer for our Holiday Adopted Family to see the abundance that has come together for their holiday. The children usually scream with delight and jump up and down with excitement. Once in the trailer, they look feverishly for a package with their name on it, which is exactly what this little girl in the photo did! And just like Billy in The Polar Express, she would not let go of it - not even for anyone to help her up the series of stairs into the family's trailer. She wobbled but never wavered and personally placed it under the family Christmas tree inside so it would be there for her on Christmas morning!
Sometimes we find ourselves replacing stoves, washing machines, refrigerators and even water heaters for our Holiday Adopted Families. For this particular family, the very first night we went to visit them, Mom was cooking dinner outside in the cold, damp weather on a bbq grill because their stove did not work. So we knew right a way that we wanted to find a way to bring dinner preparation back inside their trailer home by replacing and safely installing a new one. Once everything was all set up, one of their daughters shouts out "Yay, we can have mac and cheese!"
Children's heads in beds for sweet dreams has become a priority for our efforts over the years and this particular year was no different. Five children were sharing a single bedroom that had only two twin beds in it. By the time we were done, beds of all sizes were settled in like a puzzle along with storage for each child to store their things for a personal sense of space. We were truly guided by angels!
There is always something that matters unexpectedly more than other things - like this oversize stock pot so this mom can indulge her love of cooking for her family and have enough to share too! This family had experienced and suddenly found themselves homeless and struggling to keep their family together no matter how hard both parents worked. Their eventually found shelter with Foundation Communities, and we were matched with them to bring them holiday cheer. What we ended up doing as well is transforming their bare apartment into a real home where they could gather in the the Living Room and be together for meals at a real dining table. We worked into the early morning hours in between the parent's work schedules to accomplish a makeover that is our greatest transformation to date. Capturing that moment when the mom realizes she can take pride once again in setting out her few remaining family photos that survived the fire and that they can feel settled in enough to feel like they have a real shot at rebuilding their future. Mom asked us why them...we responded, why not them!