Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I'm in awe that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK!  Wow.  Where did the year go?  I have to admit that this is my absolute favorite time of year.  I simply love the holidays.  I love the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.  I love family and friends coming together for Thanksgiving Dinner, gathering around the table and giving thanks for all of our wonderful blessings.  I love the delicious aromas in the air during the holidays.  I also think of "charity" during the Christmas season.    

So, when you think of "charity," is there something or someone specific that you think of?  When I think of "charity," images of my mother at Christmas time come to my mind.  Looking back at my childhood, I distinctly remember my mom always putting money into those bright red buckets as we'd walk into the mall or grocery store during the holiday season.  My mom would dig through her purse to find something to give as the bell ringer would smile and tip his hat to her as she gently placed the donation in the red bucket.  I'm not sure how much my mom gave.  The amount doesn't matter.  What does matter is the fact that my mom gave something.  This simple act has been burned in my memory and has had an everlasting imprint for over thirty years.  My mom showed me "charity."  She was my example of selflessness, generosity and the true meaning of charity. 

Many of you follow this blog, Toni The Chic Momma, where I share recipes, giveaways and other momma-related musings.  Some of you may not know that I'm also the founder of Shower of Hope Oklahoma, a charitable group that I created in May 2011.  After the May 24, 2011 Oklahoma tornadoes, I was stirred to help in anyway possible.  What began as an outreach to the Hamil Family of Cashion, Oklahoma, turned into a charitable endeavor of helping families and children affected by Oklahoma storms, tornadoes and other natural disasters.  The Hamil Family lost their two precious boys from the May 24th Oklahoma tornadoes. Catherine Hamil was taking shelter with her three children in the bath tub when the tornado ripped through their home. Ryan (3) and Cole (15-months) are Heaven's newest angels. Catherine Hamil was expecting a baby girl in October 2011 when this tragedy happened.  The Hamil's 5-year old daughter, Cathleen, Catherine and her unborn baby girl survived.  Families and individuals from across the United States sent care packages for the Hamil Family through Shower of Hope Oklahoma - Hamil Family.  Notable companies such as Teething Bling, Lansinoh, Medela, Summer Infant, BornFree, STOKKE, Earth Mama Angel Baby, The First Years, The Learning Curve, The Boppy Company and many others also sent generous care packages and donations to the Hamil Family so that they would be set for their new baby. 

You might be wondering how I decided to begin my "charity."  Well, it's quite simple.  I was tired of being on the sidelines.  There had been so many times where I didn't step-up to the plate.  I didn't speak up.  I didn't act.  I would feel led to say something or do something, and would do nothing.  Why?  Well, I think fear is the answer.  I was afraid of what someone might think or of what someone might say.  I was afraid that I may fail.  It then hit me.  I was 30-years old and had two little boys who would one day be looking to me as their example of how to live life and treat others.  My two sons would also be looking to me as their example of "charity."  Upon hearing the Hamil's story, my heart began to pound and I knew in my gut that this was my time to act.  The outreach was successful beyond belief and the family was completely blessed.  Besides the Hamil Family, we were able to bless other families with the excess of donation items that were given to Shower of Hope Oklahoma. 

"Charity" can be a noun or a verb.  For me, "charity" has now become an active verb.  I'm actively trying to turn Shower of Hope Oklahoma into an official non-profit charitable organization so that I can continue to help other families in need.  You don't have to create a foundation or non-profit though.  You can be an example of "charity" everyday by doing simple things.  It's not about the amount you give or how big you give, it's simply a matter of the heart and the spirit behind the giving.  I hope reading this has stirred something in you.  My hope and desire for you is that you choose to live "charity" every single day. 

Pictures/Images: "Thanksgiving Gathering" (holidays.kaboose.com), "Red Kettle" (salvationarmyusa.org), Hamil Family pictures via (showerofhopeoklahoma.blogspot.com)

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