by Laurie “Elf” Amalfitano
In the days and weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, most everyone we know looks forward to gathering with family and friends to enjoy a feast full of turkey and sides, giving thanks for the year’s blessings. Sometimes in our busy holiday excitement it’s easy to forget those without family or a place to call home.
In 2009, I joined Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit (MCCD), with no idea the impact the church and its members would have on my own ability to give to others. It proved an opportunity for me to realize that being thankful wasn’t just about what I had been blessed with in my life. It was also importantly about what I was able to give and to share of myself and these blessings with others less fortunate.
In December 2010 MCCD adopted five families for Christmas through Volunteers of America, and “Elf Laurie” was officially christened. With the help and generosity of MCCD congregants we gave each family the Christmas they never thought would be possible. Children smiled when wrapped presents appeared by the sackful. Parents cried when their holiday dinner was set on their table.
The look of wonderment in the eyes of the little ones when we all began singing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” was enough to touch even the tiniest heart of Grinch!
That Christmas event started what is now an MCCD “tradition” of giving to the less fortunate. The church provides home cooking for Ruth Ellis Center tenants and also provides backpacks filled with necessities for the Center’s homeless youth. We collect blankets for Higher Ground, gather warm coats for area senior citizens, invite needy and lonely persons — straight and LGBT — to share a holiday meal by opening our own homes to them. That’s what giving is about. After my first year of such focused giving I’ve truly never been the same. I look forward each year to such holiday outreach.
Personally one-on-one, I sat down with each family and interviewed members to find out immediate needs; sometimes by candlelight because they couldn’t afford paying the electric bill or in the cold because they couldn’t afford to heat their home. Many times I walked away and cried in my car because I was going home to sleep under nice warm blankets, and the family I just left behind had no beds or lights in their home or were sitting with layers of clothes on because they were cold.
These are the images for me that cannot be erased. These are the images of the less fortunate. There are so many, many out there.
MCC-Detroit since 2009 has adopted more and more families through various area organizations, or from within our own community reference, to ensure that these unfortunate families can enjoy a feast at the holidays and open wrapped gifts from Santa. It starts with basics: clothes for family, toys for kids, food for the table, followed by Christmas carols sung by church members hauling Santa sacks through the streets of Ferndale and beyond.
Are you thankful for your ability to give? Do you feel it’s important to share life’s blessings with others? If so, you too can help make somebody’s holiday as festive as your own. MCCD is accepting unexpired non-perishable food items until December 15 to make up large baskets with Christmas Feasts for families in need.
Come by and drop off your donations any Sunday at 11 a.m., or if Sunday’s don’t work for you, bring donations to the church office during hours 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. The church office is located at: 2441 Pinecrest in Ferndale. Use the parking lot entrance.
Oh, yes! Mark your calendars to join us on Dec. 18 as we deliver Santa sacks and sing Christmas carols with and for our adopted families. It’s an experience I guarantee you will never forget! Giving is something we can all be thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday, because we ALL have the ability to “just do it” Thanks! God Bless!