Since 2000, the beginning of my Christmas season has come to be when I volunteer to shop for a child from the Helping Hands of Clemson. During these years, and many years before my involvement, Sealevel Systems Inc. and the O’Hanlan family have offered employees here the opportunity to donate personal time to shop for and wrap gifts for a specific child. The employees are provided the funds to purchase the clothing needs and Santa gift wishes for the child. Sealevel has been able to provide Christmas for more than 200 children in all the years of involvement. This year alone, we provided gifts for 25 children from our local area.
Over the years, the children have ranged from tiny babies to older teenagers. One year, I even purchased maternity clothes and baby items for a pregnant teen. Sometimes, the toy wishes are very specific. Other times, very little information about the child is provided. Footballs, bicycles, dolls, and electronic games are very common purchases. Gifts for a child who enjoys sewing, cooking, or art or wants to be an engineer are other examples of the hints we have received.
Buying clothes and shoes for a child we don’t know and have never seen can present a bit of a challenge. Would my preteen girl prefer jeans, t-shirts, and a hoodie, or might she prefer a dress with lace and frills? This year, the boy I was assigned was described as one who enjoys the outdoors. That meant he had to have a camouflage jacket. But, should he have boots or more generic athletic shoes? Some of us are able to involve our own children in the shopping to teach them the valuable lessons of compassion for others who are not as fortunate.
When the shopping and wrapping is complete, the Helping Hands staff picks up the load of gifts. The organization provides for children who are neglected or abused. There is a home in our local area which serves as an emergency shelter and foster home for approximately 50 children from the upstate counties in South Carolina. The children may be able to return to their parents, go to live with other relatives, or be placed in more long-term foster care. Approximately 300-400 children will be provided Christmas gifts this year through Helping Hands of Clemson. We are proud to be involved with helping the children. Regardless of the situation, all children deserve a safe and clean place to live, someone to care for them, and a few gifts on Christmas morning.
This is very worthy cause that helps many children and I urge you to check out Helping Hands of Clemson’s website for ways you may be able to help!