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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Random Act of Kindness

During the holiday season in Central New York people in every community rally together to help bring Christmas to those less fortunate. In Utica/New Hartford there are multiple toy drives and annual charities like 'Stuff The Bus' and 'Operation Sunshine' that have helped hundreds of people. But every year people get lost, families slip through the cracks and spend their Christmas morning without adequate food, presents and sometimes, even a warm place.

The reasons don't matter; when there are children involved fault or bad parenting isn't the issue. In a world where 'Santa' awards those that are 'Good' and gives nothing to the 'Bad' kids; an empty Christmas can be damning to an innocent childs self esteem.

Imagine the simple thoughts that go through a poor childs mind in the county building waiting with Grandma or Mom in one of the long lines watching other kids playing, with gadgets and poking at tablets that Santa brought them for Christmas. Imagine what they are thinking when they get back to school and the inevitable 'what did Santa bring you'? conversation comes up. In the back of their minds a self loathing develops, they might even lie to feel better, to temporarily fit in. The seeds of discontent and misunderstanding firmly planted, growing into frustration at a world they have just been born into.

What happens to those people? We ask. "They often end up here" shared Dale Lintz, Food Service Director at Utica's Rescue Mission.

The Rescue Mission is one of the only places in Utica people in need of a warm meal can get one with no questions asked. A place where the needy gather in larger numbers during Thanksgiving and Christmas.

"We have families come in cold and wet....Children" Lintz explained. He paused in thought "I mean, you can tell sometimes things may be pretty bad for some people"he added.

A single Grandmother and four of her Grandchildren were recently going through that type of 'pretty bad'. The Grandmother (name unimportant) had just had four of her Grandchildren from Syracuse (N.Y.) abandoned to her. She herself had no power in her small one bedroom apartment. The kids were left with no food or change of clothes. The mother, overwhelmed with her own personal demons, inexplicably went back to Syracuse

"The kids were dropped off a couple of days before Christmas". Dale explained. "At first I didn't really pay them any special attention, I mean we feed a lot of people". Dale was refering to the kitchen at The Rescue Mission. The Grandmother brought the kids because she had no food to feed them; even if she did, there was no power to cook it.

The Rescue Mission is primarily run by volunteers and one of them , Zonia Lucas, knew the Grandmother. Seeing her in the dining room she greeted her with surprise and joy, a joy that was quickly extinguished when she realized the dire situation she and the kids were in. "I was like, 'Oh Lord, we got to do something' I couldn't believe what I was hearing" . Lucas was immediately touched by her friends plight and her first thought, after a solemn prayer, was to tell Dale.

"Well the night of the 23rd Zonia explained how bad things were for her and the kids....all I could think about was helping them"

Dale didn't waste any time, before he even left work he went to Social Media and shared the story on his FaceBook home page. What happened next is nothing short of amazing, outstanding, incredible and Angelic.

"I'm kinda involved in my Church" Dale humbly admitted. "To be honest, I just give all Glory to God for everything in my life" he added.

The response to Dale's post was immediate. His friends on FaceBook took to the streets. Gift Cards toys and money started arriving at The Rescue Mission. Keep in mind, he posted the day before Christmas Eve.

By Christmas Eve there were so many toys, he needed the Rescue Mission Van to get them delivered. But there was still a problem. The kids had no power. Honestly, what good is a bunch of toys when the kids don't have a mother,clothes, food, or a warm place to stay?

"This was an emergency; I honestly didn't know at first how bad it actually was". Dale just posted about a lack of toys for some needy kids. Zonia left out the gritty details of their abandonment.

When he tried to make delivery Dale discovered they had no power and The Grandmother had sought help at The County Building; all four, wet, cold snotty nosed kids in tow. "Here we are Christmas Eve, we got all these toys, but no power" Lintz's faith has put him in a mental place where he doesn't dwell on problems but lives in solutions. He let his fingers do the walking and got on his phone.

Dale called a local Hotel inquired on rates and availability and booked these total strangers a room. "I discovered the Grandmother received a grant but the power would not be on till 12/31 so I used my Credit Card.

The next person he called was Cecil Morris Pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Prospect. "When I heard the passion in Dale's voice I couldn't let it go, God moved in his heart to help so I pledged the Church to reimburse him for the room rental".

So at the last minute, these four kids and an overwhelmed Grandmother with nothing to look forward to were swept up in a wave of love and compassion. They received over a thousand dollars worth of gifts, gift cards clothes and food. But one thing that they got you can't put a dollar sign on for value; its a priceless commodity and sometimes it seems to be in short supply. If we all shared it the world would be a much better place.

It's called Love.

Unconditional Love.

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