A lady just poked her head into The Kitchen Table (our multi-use space at the other end of the building), where some of us were having a meeting. I’d never seen her before, and she looked confused. She was wearing a long, black, flowy dress and had a short ponytail on top of her head, accented with a red and green Christmas bow. Her face looked tired and drawn, older than her age.

I asked if we could help her with something. She held up a $20 bill and said, “I’m looking for some change.” I told her she could go down to Joe’s Addiction, the coffee shop, and ask for change there.

She hesitated, still looking confused. Then she asked, “What IS this place?” I told her, “Well, we use this room for food pantry, AA meetings, kids’ Sunday School space on Sundays, but . . . next weekend we will have a Free Toy Store set up in here for parents to come get Christmas presents for their children.”

She said, “Are you kidding me?”

I told her, “No,” and handed her a flyer about it.

She seemed really flustered and again said she had come in to try to make change. I told her to head down to the coffee shop, and the girl behind the counter would give her some. She turned around and headed out the door with the flyer in her hand.

A few minutes later she came through the door again. still holding the flyer. She again asked, “Are you kidding me? The presents will be free?” I assured her that they would and explained what time to come.

Suddenly she started crying. She said, “My daughter died recently, and my three grandchildren have just come to live with me.” I told her she could come and get presents for all three, and that the children can even come next Sunday to get a present for her. She just stood there staring at me.

Then she said, “I threw my Christmas tree in the backyard, because I didn’t think we were going to have a Christmas.”

Finally it seemed to sink in, and she started bouncing up and down. “I’m going home to get my Christmas tree out of the backyard and set it up in the house!! We’re having Christmas!! God bless you!!” Then she turned and literally RAN out the door and down the sidewalk, ponytail and ruffles bouncing wildly.

Now, there’s a picture of HOPE!