ArticleID: 115
Date: 12/25/2001
Written By: Captain Jackson

By Captain Jackson

To many of us, Christmas means a day with family and friends. Even those who had to work, most worked around a schedule so they could spend some time with their loved ones. And for those who live far away from their families, there were football games and videos to watch on TV, or a good magazine to read. Even a long telephone conversation could have made the holiday difference.

Most of these people also wished for a white Christmas. To them, the holiday season just wouldn`t be complete without snow. But there is another population who dread the time of year when the snow finally arrives. That is because as the snow comes, so do the frigid temperatures which makes life almost unbearable. They are our community`s homeless.

Despite the near frigid temperatures and blowing snow, many of Jackson`s less fortunate were treated to a special Christmas treat, a dinner complete with all the fixings. This is an event held each year by the Inter-Faith Homeless Shelter on Blackstone Street.

The Shelter held their dinner twice during Christmas Day. According to Shelter worker Jeremy Howard, the first dinner, held during the noon hour, drew 89 people. The second dinner at five in the afternoon saw a somewhat subdued crowd. And not all the attendees are currently homeless.

"It happened to me," said one local small businessman who asked his name not be used, "I just moved here and started a business. There was a fire in the apartment I lived in. I lost everything. I was living day to day and had no place to go. I knew nobody.

"I never lived here but I came here for help. I slept in a small room in the back of my business until I could afford a place to live. The people here were great. They fed me and helped me get on my feet again. Now I help them whenever I can. I came here to show my support."

Another example is Lorraine Jones. A very intelligent young lady who is now getting over a spell of bad luck, all she could do is talk about bettering herself. "I`m on a fixed income right now. I`m looking to find a job, any kind of job so I can do better for myself."

Of course, during these hard times the Shelter has been very busy doing it`s primary function---providing sanction for our less fortunate.

Charlisa, a twenty-something mother apologized for her seven year old daughter Arielle. "I`m very sorry if she`s bothering you," she said.

"It`s all right," I replied, "she`s not." And she wasn`t. Instead, she had been telling me how lucky they were to have such a nice place to live with so many friends. She made it a point to show me many of the ornaments on the Shelter`s Christmas tree and explain which ones were her favorites.

But the Shelter`s primary business is housing the homeless. I asked Jeremy Howard about the number of current tenants.

"All the men`s beds are full," he said, "and about half the women`s." Not bad for this time of year, especially compared to last. And the real winter weather is yet to come. Even though the Shelter gets operating money from a number of sources, it`s the volunteers and day to day donations by individuals and businesses that really keep the place going.

But through it all, one thing stuck in my mind. Seven year old Arielle. Here was a little girl who probably didn`t get a thing for Christmas but showed more joy for the holiday than anyone has the ability to understand. Isn`t this what Christmas is really supposed to be all about?

Copyright 2001, CFC

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