Many churches and families last weekend celebrated Epiphany, which tells of the Three Kings visit to baby Jesus in the manger. For most, this signals the end of the Christmas season and the dismantling of the household decorations. It is always so much more fun to decorate for the holidays but a real bummer to have to take everything down!
Around Davidson today concentrates on giving to others during the holidays. We have news of Room in the Inn, stuffed animals for children and a visiting child from Latvia.
MAKING ROOM FOR THE HOMELESS
It is called Room in the Inn, or RITI for short. RITI provides overnight shelter for homeless people during the coldest months – January, February and March). Many area churches include RITI in their church buildings as part of their community service outreach.
College students, Boy Scout troops and volunteers maintain the program at the Davidson College Presbyterian Church (DCPC). Since DCPC does not have permanent dormitory space, the beds and linens are set up each weekend before the van brings the people from Charlotte. Church groups provide an evening meal, fellowship, hygiene kits and a warm breakfast the next morning before sending the guests back to Charlotte.
Kudos to Richie King who has chaired RITI at DCPC for the past 10 years. Interested in helping Richie? Just stop by the church and let them know. Volunteers are always needed.
BEARS, MONKEYS AND PUPPY DOGS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Judy Johnson of the Hudson Place neighborhood had a wonderful idea after Christmas. She and a neighbor, Linda Osborne, hit the After Christmas sales at Harris Teeter stores in our area to pluck all the stuffed animals off their display board – priced at 75 percent off! Visiting Harris Teeter stores in Mooresville, Davidson, Cornelius and Huntersville, these savvy ladies collected 42 bears, monkeys and puppy dogs. One store manager even donated a $25 gift card to help the ladies with their purchases.
Next stop for these wonderful stuffed animals? Judy’s couch, where the tags were cut off, each animal was checked for any “bruising” and then carefully bagged up for the next stop: The Levine Children’s Center in Charlotte. There Judy presented her soft and cuddly stash of stuffed animals to Emily Bootcheck, the Associate Development Director for Carolinas Health Care Foundations in connection with Levine Children’s Hospital. The warm and fuzzy bears, monkeys and puppy dogs will be distributed to hospitalized children needing a little something special to make their medical stay a little brighter.
Thanks, Judy, for a wonderful idea – which actually stemmed from her hospitalization as a first grader when she remembers how grim everything looked and how a bit of cheer could go a long way to make a child smile. Judy is hoping to make this an annual round-up of after Christmas stuffed animals. Can’t wait to hear about 2013 holiday sales!
GREETINGS FROM LATVIA
Meet Renee and Steve Robinson and their three boys, Jacob (9), Zachary (7) and Andrew (4), who have lived in River Run for the past 18 months. The family originally lived in Atlanta but spent 2½ years in Virginia before coming to Davidson where Steve is employed with Mannheim Auto Auctions. Mom Renee felt that their sons were old enough to begin an appreciation for others in the world who are less fortunate. Seeing a poster on a local church’s bulletin board about New Horizons for Children, Steve and Renee looked into their International Hosting Program for Orphaned Children (www.newhorizonsforchildren.org).
The Robinsons applied, took the mandatory training, raised the money needed to sponsor a child and just over three weeks ago, 11-year-old Viktors arrived from a town near Riga, Latvia. Viktors was one of 200 children from Latvia and Ukraine who traveled to the United States for a four week stay during vacation time over the holidays in their home countries. Twelve youngsters from this large group came to Charlotte.
The Robinsons met Viktors at the airport and immediately involved him in their daily routines including bike riding, basketball, soccer, bowling, jigsaw puzzles and favorite TV shows. Renee had scheduled Viktors for eye and dental check-ups and he passed both with flying colors. His skill with reading English is quite good and his speaking has improved daily. (The family has found that the Latvian/English translator website on the computer is an enormous help.)
Viktors arrived with only a backpack containing a change of clothes but will return to Latvia with a suitcase filled with clothes and toiletries provided by the Robinson family, friends and fellow church members. They attend Uptown Church in Charlotte and all enjoyed the Christmas programs during the holidays. Viktors and the Robinson boys were thrilled to welcome a Christmas puppy to the family when Macie, a delightful Schnoodle appeared during the holidays.
Viktors returns to Latvia next Sunday on January 13. Goodbyes will be hard for the Robinson family. The four weeks have had some rough moments but the happy, smiling times far outweigh them. Viktors has had opportunities to interact with family, friends, neighbors, church groups and school friends of the Robinson boys who attend Covenant Classical School in Concord. The hope is always that meeting a visiting youngster from Latvia or Ukraine will cultivate an adoption opportunity. But whether this happens or not, Viktors has had a marvelous “vacation” with hopes of returning to the United States next Christmas for another visit.
Be sure to check out Renee’s blog (www.barefootwalks.com) or access the website show above for New Horizons for Children. Thanks to the Robinson family for sharing their story with Around Davidson.
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