"Someone is going to do something for the babies."
That's how Sonja Chisholm reassured a mom in her Gracious Hands transitional housing program who was worried that her kids would have a Christmas with no presents under the tree.
Gracious Hands provides temporary shelter while educating, encouraging and empowering women with children to attain a brighter future economically, socially and spiritually. Up to five women and their children are able to live in the comfortable home provided by "Miss Sonja," so they can get back on their feet and find self-sufficiency.
As the Founder and Director of Gracious Hands, Sonja has always had faith that the community will come through for her residents—and that faith continues to be fulfilled. She knew someone would do something to give "the babies" a merry Christmas, and the call was answered during #GivingTuesdayCLT 2018.
The team at SouthPark Mall wanted to contribute to #GivingTuesdayCLT, and SHARE Charlotte identified their partner, Gracious Hands, as the perfect beneficiary.
"SouthPark loves to partner with organizations such as SHARE Charlotte, which helps assist us with the best places to give back to our community," says Holly Roberson, Director of Marketing and Business Development for SouthPark Mall.
Five women and eight children from Gracious Hands were given gift cards courtesy of SouthPark Mall for various stores and the food court, so they could enjoy a day of holiday shopping complete with lunch.
"The experience of being able to shop together and break bread together was rare," says Sonja, who explained that even though the women live together, their different work schedules make group meals and experiences difficult to coordinate.
Octavia, who lives in the Gracious Hands house and is saving up to purchase her own home, says the #GivingTuesdayCLT shopping day made the holidays more joyful. "My daughter was running around trying things on, and I was grateful to be able to take her into a store without worrying about how I was going to pay for what she wanted," says Octavia, whose daughter just turned three. "My daughter and I have never experienced anything like that."
Sonja's favorite memory of the shopping day was hearing one of the children exclaim, "this is the best Christmas I've ever had!"
Imagine being able to give a child in Charlotte the best Christmas she ever had. It's not only possible, but it's easy when you partner with a small but mighty organization like Gracious Hands.
You can donate supplies, gifts or your time by contacting Sonja Chisholm at 704.777.0155 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can donate online today at gracioushandshousing.org.
Want to shop for GOOD? Gracious Hands is in immediate need of twin beds, twin sheets and twin comforters. You can also visit their Give Shop Wish List to easily donate other supplies.
Grace Kennedy is a Huntersville-based writer specializing in storytelling for nonprofits. Learn more at gracekennedy.net.