Above our kitchen table growing up, there hung a large black and white framed picture of four children sitting on a dilapidated porch eating watermelon. Only one of the boys had shoes on, the eldest boy who gazed boldly at the camera. The other children were barefoot, except for my father who had one shoe on – one shoe with no laces, that is! But nonetheless, his foot was planted firmly in that shoe as he sat munching away on his summer treat. Dad used to laugh and tell us, his four kids, that by the time a pair of shoes got to him, there was only one left! You see, my father grew up as one of eight children in a home in a very poor (to put it mildly) paper mill town in Northern Maine where there was a lot of love but not much else.
Perhaps that is why Assistance League Santa Clarita “Operation School Bell” nights are some of my favorite nights of the year! As a member-volunteer for Assistance League, I get the opportunity to see the bright eyes of the students at Old Navy as they hand me their piles of hand-picked school clothes. They may have chosen brand new jeans, sharp looking collared shirts, a warm coat for when the weather turns brisk in the fall, or any number of items that will make them feel they fit in at school.
As I witness their laughter and delight, I can’t help but think of my father and his siblings. How full of joy they would have been on a night like that! What a skip they would have had in their step as they made their way over to get their Payless gift card for a new pair of school shoes. This time, both shoes could be theirs! Perhaps that is why when that momma gives me a big hug and tearfully tells me how much this shopping spree means to her, I believe deep down I truly know how she feels because, if Assistance League Santa Clarita had been in Maine, I am certain it would have helped my Nana Lena, and I also believe that Nana would have just loved becoming a member-volunteer once her kids were grown! You see, Nana Lena made everything beautiful, even a picture of four well-loved little kids on a dilapidated porch eating watermelon.
Interested in donating, volunteering or learning more about Assistance League Santa Clarita and our programs like Operation School Bell? Visit www.assistanceleaguesantaclarita.org or like us on Facebook at facebook.com/assistanceleaguesantaclarita/