Kohl's provided me with a $500 Kohl's gift card to spend towards the purchases of this pay it forward opportunity, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Now that Christmas is over, I wanted to share a very personal story of struggles that my family and I endured at one point in our lives. The Christmas season was once a very grim holiday for us just seven years ago, because it was a time in our lives that we had to experience a life of poverty. As I write this post with a very heavy heart, I want you to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, so please read it to the end. I hope that it will inspire you and give you hope that your struggles can one day become some of your greatest successes.
It was Christmas Day in 2007 and I was just four months pregnant with my youngest son, Jude. I watched George move up and down three flights of stairs several times that night from our one-bedroom apartment as we urgently tried to move our belongings out of that apartment. We were getting evicted. I couldn’t help him move, because I was pregnant and considered a high-risk pregnancy. George and I were both jobless, and exhausted all of our savings. And because I was high-risk, I could not work even if I wanted to. We had nothing but a few dollars left in our pockets. The electricity had been cut off due to non-payment and moving out of a dark apartment on a cold, wintery night was even more disheartening.
I remember listening to the radio station in Dallas when they were telling stories of families who were chosen for their annual Christmas wish contest the week before and crying. Oh, how I wished I could help others in need! But how could I, when I couldn’t even help my own family?! We bought Noah and Jasmine (our oldest two) gifts that were on clearance for just a couple of dollars. It was all we could afford, and it was at a time where I learned to work with what little money we had. Christmas Day 2007 was when I made a vow that one day I would be the one helping others in need and that time has finally come.
Poverty and suffering through hard times can happen to anyone. We weren’t alone – there were and there are still so many others in need. It was one of the darkest times in my life, yet put things in a new perspective for me. It wasn’t until I lived through it that I understood what life was like to have very, very little.
Fast forward to seven years and two more children later, and I can honestly say that we are grateful for all we have now. It is a fulfilling life that serves others and is abundant in all things good. God has provided our needs and more, and we will never forget where we were once in life. We’ve used those experiences as a living testimony to what hope and faith can do to one’s spirit, and continue to share our tips and ideas on how to overcome obstacles in life. It was one of the biggest reasons my blog was created.
Thanks to Kohl’s, we’ve been able to pay it forward and help as many people in need as we can. From women to children and the homeless in need of basic necessities – we were able to spend $500 at Kohl’s to help those in Las Vegas in need. Our whole family spent two trips to Kohl’s on our pay it forward shopping spree and it was one of the most fulfilling experiences in my life. And the opportunity to teach my children the act of giving was priceless. It was a moment we will never forget.
The two charities we decided to donate to were Safe Nest and Shade Tree. We dropped off 5-bags FULL of clothing and toys to each of these charities so that they can distribute it throughout Las Vegas to help others.
Here’s a little bit of information about each charity:
Shade Tree has been dedicated to improving the lives of women, children and their pets affected by domestic violence and crisis in the Las Vegas valley. As the largest and only 24-hour accessible shelter of its kind in Nevada, The Shade Tree provides help, healing, and hope to more than 6,000 women, children and their pets each year. They offer assistance to victims by providing safe shelter, meals, life skills and educational opportunities, access to healthcare and more.
Safe Nest is Nevada’s largest and most comprehensive charity devoted solely to domestic violence issues. Safe Nest’s programs are concentrated in four areas of service: shelter, counseling, advocacy and prevention. Their shelter homes are maintained in undisclosed locations for the safety of abuse victims and their children, and all services are provided with confidentiality as a high priority. Their goal is to assist families from crisis to healing, while empowering victims toward self-sufficiency in violence-free lives. Safe Nest provides services for victims, batterers and their children. Prevention programs focus on children, teens, and young adults.
We encourage you to serve in your local community by volunteering your time and/or donating in whatever ways you can. Pay it forward and make a difference in the lives of others. There’s no greater feeling than giving.