As a single mom raising two sons, life hasn’t always been easy for Andrea Wyatt. “We don’t have a lot of material wealth and gift giving inside the family has always been kind of minimal – we don’t sit around our tree and unwrap presents for half the day.”
So last Christmas Andrea told her sons, Beau (13) and Anthony (10) that she didn’t need any presents, she was giving it up so they could have more. To her surprise, the boys decided they didn’t need anything either and wanted to donate their Christmas to others. “Honestly I was a bit shocked,” according to Andrea. “Not that they’re greedy or anything but Christmas presents are always a big deal for kids and I just assumed they would be happy with whatever they received.”
Instead the family went on a shopping spree that provided Christmas gifts for many families through such community organizations as Rady Children’s Hospital, Wishes for Children, Angel Trees, Keeping Kids First and others. They even donated their Christmas tree to Stromsoe Insurance, where Andrea works and where this year they will also be collecting canned food for local pantries.
The family spent over $830 of their own money on gifts, books and clothes. Then they became aware of another family who were regular volunteers at food pantries. Both parents had recently lost jobs and were facing a bleak Christmas so Andrea and the boys picked up a few more toys, books, some food and a gift certificate to make that family’s Christmas a little cheerier too.
“It was just the best Christmas ever for us,” says Wyatt. “The boys enjoyed it so much we’re doing it again this year. They’ve already done some shopping and are hoping to get some of their friends involved too. They just heard from a friend of theirs recently diagnosed with cancer who has been at Rady’s watching some of the DVD’s we gave them last year. That really brings it home – how one little effort can reach so far.”
“It is just so heartwarming to see everything this community does to try to help our less fortunate neighbors. I know the pantries have all seen a greater need for assistance this year and are being pinched because fewer people can afford to donate. Sometimes you just have to make that difference one family at a time to make our community stronger. I am truly humbled that my family, my boys, have decided to make difference.