A Community Making the Season the Most Wonderful Time of Year

The 2011 holiday season is here and – for many families – it brings higher heating bills, worries about gift expenses, and disrupted schedules. Too often, this is a recipe for added household stress, with negative consequences for the brain development and well-being of young children. Children struggle when their parents are overwhelmed.1,2

The Memphis community comes together in many ways to help the less fortunate during the holidays. Many organizations, business, and families in Memphis donate food, money, clothes, and gifts for families who would otherwise go hungry or miss out on the joys that the holiday season can bring. There are Thanksgiving food drives and Christmas toy drives from many organizations across the community, and one organization will be serving more than 10,000 families this year.

As it has for the past twelve years, The Neighborhood Christian Center (NCC) will spend this season assembling holiday baskets for families in need at this time of year. This year, they will be making 10,500 baskets, each with a frozen chicken and other food items to last a family of four for up to four days. According to Ms. Effie Johnson, NCC Director, some of the families who receive the baskets are chronically poor, others have recently lost jobs, but all of them are grateful for the additional help at this time feeding themselves and their children.

In addition to the baskets, families who participate in NCC’s Operation Smart Child and other programs can sign up for the NCC Toy Store, where they can pick out three toys as a family. Ms. Johnson indicated that between 500 and 600 families depend this service, which is made possible by donations from the community. Finally, NCC pairs a dozen or so families with means to families who are struggling this season. As part of this program, the families who are financially able provide meals, toys, and other gifts for the families who have been part of NCC for some time and are moving toward independence.

NCC couldn’t do all of this without the help of the Memphis community. In fact, their biggest volunteer opportunity is December 10th, when they will pack the 10,500 holiday baskets. Ms. Johnson stated the people of all ages – from 3 to 100 – join together to complete this task, and everyone is welcome. To volunteer, call Pamela Cox (at 881-6013, extension 115) to sign up.

We want to celebrate more of the ways that the Memphis community is working to make sure every child is well fed, warm, and gets to experience the joy of the holiday season.