This time of year there are lots of great organizations and folks collecting for people in need. We hear about The Empty Stocking, the Firefighters, The Salvation Army. There are boxes in banks and grocery stores, covered in holiday paper, waiting to be filled with donations.
But I am going to share with you the story of one of the best kept secrets in St. Augustine. This small group works quietly behind the scenes, not just at Christmas, but all year long, filling in the cracks for those in our community most in need. These are the parents who wait to the last minute at Christmas, hoping against hope that they can work overtime or finagle their bills just enough to buy presents for their children. They are the families who don’t apply for assistance because they hope to be able to provide on their own. But then at the last minute, a car battery dies, a child is sick and needs a prescription or the electric bill was usually high and they find themselves in the weeks before Christmas facing a hardship they never thought they would.
And that my friends, is when The Little Club that Could swoops in to save the day. They get names on a list, sizes and favorite colors, stuff for mom and dad, too.
They email to club members, enlist anyone they can and this small group of dedicated elves make Christmas magic happen.
The mom on one of the lists may have been practical, asking for laundry detergent or canned goods. But The Little Club that Could adds to that moms list and gets her some bedroom slippers or cologne, something that makes her feel special,too.
And in the last few days before Christmas, cars are packed full of Christmas joy and delivered to the homes of some of the hardest hit families in our community. They might be our neighbors, the teller at the bank, the clerk at the grocery store or someone we work with and most of us will never know that they fell on tough times and if not for the kindness, the dedication and the enduring compassion of The Little Club that Could, Christmas would have just been like any other day.
The best kept secret in town? The Sertoma Club of St. Augustine, The Little Club that Could. Though they are small, they are mighty. Though they are few, they do the work of many. And they are the best example I know of the quiet power of compassion at work, not just at the holidays, but all year long. The Sertoman’s, which is derived from SERvice To MANkind, re
mind of The Parable of The Good Samaritan, they are who they are and they do what they do because they are in the habit of helping all year long. Just like the Good Samaritan, compassion is something they practice every day. And just like The Samaritan, coming to the aid of those in need is a part of who they are.
Three qualities The Good Samaritan had, that made him the way he was were, empathy, courage and the habit of helping. Qualities latent in us all is only we worked harder to develop and strengthen them. Coming to the aid of people in need at Christmas time, or all throughout the year, are not isolated incidents. The people of Sertoma have become practitioners of responding to other peoples needs. How, the same way we all can. By going the extra mile, occasionally, by giving someone a hand, when you can, by taking our fair share of civic responsibility, when we can manage it. These things may not seem to add up to much, but then compassion need not be about some heroic self-sacrifice, but rather the endless repetition of kind
Thank you Sertoma, for your heart, your compassion and your generosity. Because you dared to dreamed big and make it happen, fewer folks in our community will fall through the cracks this holiday season and in the coming year.