This is my 4th year working with Paschal Harvest Project, and Adopt a Panther is by far my favorite thing that I get to be a part of. I used to always get anxious. I would worry that families would miss deadlines or that they wouldn't know about the program until it was too late. Then as applications came in, I would be anxious about whether or not we would have the volunteers or resources to take care of all of these families. But each year, by grace alone, everything comes together. Each family gets sponsored, we have a surplus of volunteers, the gifts are neatly wrapped and put into their santa bags, the party is a huge hit, and we all walk away excited for the next year.
This year was nothing short of year's past. Thanks to our incredible community we got to serve 92 families with close to 300 children. What I love most about our program though, is its uniqueness in being such a beautiful picture of neighborly love. Our volunteers and families are from right here in the Paschal community. They attend Paschal or neighboring feeder schools. They live right around the corner from one another. They probably shop at the same local grocery stores and share in this little corner of the city that we call home. Truly a neighbor caring for one another.
We also got the opportunity to go the extra mile. We made custom hand-lettered invitations for each of the families and incorporated a winter wonderland carnival to have activities while families waited for their names to be called. The carnival included reindeer food, a popcorn bar, snacks, DIY ornaments, hot chocolate bar, pictures with Santa, and even games. Each kid also got to decorate a carnival bag to take all their goodies home. The kids had a blast and even some of our new families were taken acback by each small detail that made the party so special. My favorite part of Adopt a Panther, though, is the room full of gifts. When you stand in the middle of it all you get such a sense of gratitude and joy. It’s not just a room full of gifts, it’s compassion and love embodied in a big Santa bag with handpicked gifts from one family to another.
You see, with everything that we do at Paschal Harvest Project, we want to make sure that our families feel cared for, seen, and valued. That is why we put so much effort in the little things, because we believe that this will therefore instill a sense of hope. The hope that tells them they can endure circumstances, overcome adversity, and be resilient.
From our Paschal Harvest Project family to yours, Merry Christmas. We hope this season will bring you peace and joy! We are so thankful for each of you who choose to partner with us in making a difference in the lives of Paschal. It is truly what makes this the most wonderful time of the year.