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No present can be more vital than gift of hope

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12 Views of Christmas: Guest column by Janay Sutton

“’Twas the night before Christmas … The children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.” Those firsts words from Clement Moore’s classic poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” gives a lot of us happy memories.

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However, there are countless children, some who might live just down the street from you, who will not have the luxury of a warm bed to nestle into as they await Santa. Rather, they find rest on some feeble substitute such as the floor and a blanket. For some children and youth, a sleeping bag or pillow is considered a treat.

In this season of merriment and glad tidings, there are families struggling daily to provide a roof overhead much less presents ’neath the tree. There are children who are desperate to receive a food bag at the close of their school day, which could very well be all they will consume between Friday afternoon and Monday morning. Not to mention, there are children living in homes that have holes in the floor in need of serious repair or an electric bill gone unpaid because of lack of income.

These are the tragic victims who we are dedicated to rescuing as devoted members of the Hardin County Schools Family Resource and Youth Services Center team. We go into homes to provide a “hand up” not a “hand out” because, ’Twas the Night Before Christmas also tells about a precious gift — a gift which we, as FRYSC team members strive daily to provide.

As the story continues, “The stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.” That present is the precious gift of hope.

Whether providing the means for a parent to obtain their GED, making home visits to begin early childhood education through the First Connections program or sponsoring a parent involvement event at a local school which emphasizes the importance of literacy, Family Resource and Youth Service Centers are determined to make a difference in the lives of children each and every day.

Our community is the strongest asset in helping us assist our families. While many can see all the amazingly wonderful “troops” rally throughout the holiday season such as Helping Hand of Hope and Salvation Army, these partnering agencies provide so much more throughout the entire calendar year.

For example, where would many services be without the United Way’s continual financial support which keeps the FRYSC’s First Connections program educating our toddlers, the Community Health Clinic serving the public and Feeding America providing weekend food backpacks for our children?

And then, how could one forget all the many local businesses and individuals who “adopt” children in need especially during the holiday season?

We are blessed to live in a community that chooses to provide hope regardless of its shape. Hardin Countians give continuously to make sure friends and neighbors are comforted.

However, there always is a need. Whether it’s paying the remaining balance on someone’s water bill, a carefully selected present for a special “angel” from the Helping Hand of Hope or Salvation Army tree or even providing a bed for a child to nestle into on Christmas Eve, we truly can send the heartfelt wish of “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

Janay Sutton is director of Health and Family Youth Service Centers for Hardin County Schools.