This is a subject near and dear to my heart. It is something that I haven't spoken about much, but I am going to now, in an effort to encourage others. I want to talk about our Christmas bikes.
When my daughter was born, I decided to do something that I had long wanted to do - give to others. It had always seemed impossible, but I was so grateful that we had been blessed with this tiny little person that I needed to give to someone else. We decided her first holiday season to go to an angel tree and buy a gift for a child the same age from the tree. But money was tight and we couldn't afford to do it until the last minute. By the time we got to the tree, there was only one baby left with a nearly undecipherable wish. The rest of the tags were split about half and half. The first half were older children who wanted expensive video game systems, expensive clothing, or other expensive gifts. The people who were giving on the tree were obviously not in the market to spend several hundred dollars on a child they didn't know. The other half of the kids weren't asking for something frivolous, though. They were asking for bikes. Literally, about half of the tree was children who wanted a bike for Christmas and weren't going to get one, because they were too expensive for a donated gift. It took everything I had not to stand in the store and cry. In fact, I am tearing up again remembering it two years later.
Well, we couldn't afford to buy a bike - we could barely afford ten dollars for the baby gift we were there to donate. But I couldn't let it be. I looked at the ads and the bikes at stores and found that most of them started around $50. They didn't have a bunch of bells and whistles, but they were good, solid kids' bikes. And I had a year to come up with $50 for a bike for Christmas next year. And that was only a dollar a week. So I set up our savings account to automatically withdraw a dollar from our checking every week. At the end of the year, I had my $52, and I excitedly bought a bike. Ok, so really, Micah bought the bike because I was at home with a baby and we couldn't fit the bike and the carseat in the car at the same time. He also took it and donated it at the battered women's shelter on Christmas Eve and got to see the excited faces as someone showed up with such a prized gift.
Well, I was hooked! The savings kept pulling out a dollar a week and this year I watched the sales like a hawk. I knew it was possible, what I wanted to do... I offered up a bike on a local help list and was told that there was a little boy who wanted a 12" bike. And I watched and watched. And in the day after Thanksgiving ad there was a 12" boy's bike for $25! I got 2! I am so excited! Two bikes for kids for Christmas! The first was delivered to the first youngster and the second was offered up on freecycle, simply called a bike for a child for Christmas, and asking that the respondants tell me why they were interested in the bike. I gave it to a family on a fixed income whose kids didn't even have a tree this year.
This is truly my favorite part of the holidays. I am so grateful for the gifts that I have been given in my life. I may do without sometimes, but my kids have a warm house and good food. My kids are loved. My kids are healthy and happy. There are children out there who aren't that blessed. There are kids who will wish for a bike their whole childhood - and what is more a part of childhood than a bike? So, I save my dollar every week.
The reason I am writing is that I hope that others will follow suit. I am challenging, asking, praying, hoping that you who are reading this will get out a jelly jar, or set up a savings account (you can get one free, no minimum balance, great interest at www.ingdirect.com), put an envelope in your sock drawer, or whatever else you can think of. Please put a dollar a week in and at Christmas next year, please buy a bike for a child who won't have one. If you can't afford to save a dollar a week, try for 50 cents and watch the sale ads for a $25 bike.
Ideas for places to donate a bike:
Battered Women's Shelter
Toys for Tots
Angel Trees (found in stores, at the front, with the names of kids in need)
Local toy drives (firestations and local businesses do these a lot)
Talk to people you know to see if they know a family in need
I truly hope that this post will touch some of you and that you will find it in your heart and budget to make a child's holiday wishes come true next year!
Labels: Mindful Holidays