by Katie Delp
I believe we all have the deep desire to be generous. And this is never more true than at the holidays. For over 35 years, FCS has operated Pride for Parents as an alternative to the “adopt-a-kid” toy programs at Christmas. FCS Founder Bob Lupton saw first hand the damage this type of charity did to parents, especially fathers, by unintentionally exposing a parent’s inability to provide for their families. Too often this humiliation was carried out in front of their own kids.
So for over three decades, we have been setting up a toy store each Christmas with donated toys and pricing them at a reduced cost. Families in our South Atlanta community can purchase them and have the opportunity to joyfully provide for their own kids at Christmas.
While this program was designed to affirm the dignity of the families we work with (and it definitely does), it has also promoted generosity in unexpected ways. Traditional charity programs too often separate the generous givers and the grateful receivers as though these descriptors are mutually exclusive. Unintentionally, these programs have robbed those they serve of the privilege of being generous.
What I have seen in Pride for Parents, however, is that many of families we serve come eager to buy a gift not only for their own child, but also for a niece or nephew or neighborhood friend. Yes, they are grateful for the reduced prices on toys for Christmas, but they are equally joyful for the opportunity to be generous.
One of my neighbors, Jaden, a 14-year-old who is often too cool to ever give me so much as a smile, walked into our store last Christmas with her very own babysitting money. I overheard her tell one of her friends how excited she was to find just what her 7-year old cousin wanted for Christmas. As she counted out her dollar bills, I heard her say, “I can’t wait for her to open this!”
Another neighbor, Ms. Sylvia came in this year telling me about her neighbor who had recently taken in her four young grandchildren. Ms. Sylvia and some friends had collected $20 together and bought gifts for each of the grandkids to help out their friend. They sacrificially and joyfully gave to their own neighbor to ease her burden at Christmas.
Jaden and Ms. Sylvia are just two examples of how empowering it is for all people - regardless of their level of resources - to have the opportunity to be generous. Many people are extremely generous with FCS each year, donating toys and financial gifts to make our programs, including Pride for Parents, possible. And it is this generosity that in turn allows our families in South Atlanta to also be generous.
I love that a program meant to affirm dignity becomes a path to generosity. God’s kingdom seems to work that way. We are called to be both grateful receivers and generous givers.