Holiday Pay it Forward - The Movement

I've spent the past week reading through over 160 emails of people in need this holiday season.
I've cried more tears than I thought possible reading these heartbreaking stories.
Aly, Holly & I may have gotten in over our heads on this one, as it's just not possible to share all 160+ stories. Although we wish we could!
But for the next 12 days (or more, who knows) we'll each be featuring a few stories on our blogs and be asking for YOUR help. Asking you to pay it forward. To share their stories on YOUR blog, with YOUR Facebook friends, etc. We want to help these families not suffer this Christmas. Please, if something you read pulls at your heart strings, like they did ours, email us at MLHolidayPayItForward (at) yahoo and we will get you in touch with the right person and let you know how you can help!
Also, there will be SEVERAL stories shared, so make sure to check Aly & Holly's blog daily as well!

When emailing us, in the Subject line put our name (Holly, Aly or Mama -whoever featured the story on their blog) and the name of the story you want to help.
All stories will be named- some names might be changed for anonymity.
But this will help us sort through the emails and better help. THANK YOU!

Here is the first story:

Inner City Kids 
State- Florida

"I have said it before and will say it again, I have the best job in the world. I am the proud teacher of 22 six and seven year old's at an inner city school. Our school is a title one school, which means a certain percentage of the student population qualifies for free and reduced lunch. 21 of my 22 students qualify for free and reduced lunch, living well underneath the poverty level. As I am teaching them to read, write, and add and subtract, they are teaching me how to love in a way that I didn't know existed. I am 25 with no children, so to me, they are my babies. 

However, I wish that this ongoing story was easy. Everyday, all of my kids come to school in their embroidered shirts and pants that they must buy; black shoes and a belt. They enter my room, ready to learn. As their minds are full of eagerness, and their hearts are filled  with love, the haunting sounds of some of their stomachs growling takes over. As I was teaching a lesson one day, I looked around the room and six of my kids had their heads down with their arms wrapped around their belly's. At first, maybe out of instinct, I wanted to approach them and discipline them for not paying attention. But then I started to think...
Did they eat breakfast in the cafeteria?
Did I remember to hand out snack yesterday?
How many hours has it been since lunch yesterday?
And in that moment that seemed to last 10 minutes, I found myself staring at the whiteboard with my back to the class trying to make my tears disappear. 

Until you've looked into the eyes of a child who is hungry, and you don't have a stove to cook on, you'll grab anything to feed them. During my lunch that day I ran to the closest CVS and grabbed as many snack foods as I could and pretty much made them eat for the rest of the day. And since that day, I've made sure to have a HUGE snack at the end of the day.

As if hunger wasn't already a huge issue, there's the clothing issue. Holes in their shoes; wearing belts that could fit me; shirts in a size 4T; pants without buttons...it's a hard sight to see. No matter what is going on in my life, who cut me off on my way to work, the lack of sleep I received...nothing compares to what they go through. Yet everyday, they enter my room with the biggest smile on their faces and the tightest hug you've received and tell me good morning, and sometimes an "I love you". And in that specific moment, it's with God's grace that you forget about all the sadness and hug them back, making sure they hear me say "I love you more!"

I know that I am doing nothing out of the ordinary. Millions of teachers just like me have to endure this pain everyday. If I could buy them all clothes and feed them three meals a day, I would. But unfortunately, I can't. I'm hoping that with everything they go through, this submittal will help see them to a Christmas they'll never forget. As far as their needs and wants, they're very different. They "need" clothes, shoes, underwear, socks, etc. They "want" the latest toys, games, and everything else kids at their age want.

I understand this is a large request. Maybe too big to complete. I'm sure that you are reading thousands of stories that are just as deserving as mine. I just want to be able to give these kids something they'll never forget. I want to see the look in their eyes that all parents talk about when their kids open presents. I want to see 22 of those eyes."


As I read that email with tears flooding my eyes I immediately knew I HAD to help those kids.
I wondered how I would do it. How I could POSSIBLY ask for help for 22 kids.
I bookmarked the email and it was on the back of my mind for a few days.

And then a miracle happened.

I got an email from a lady in Knoxville, TN. who is the director of an after school program stating her, her coworkers and her kids' 96 families wanted to help a story in need.
Chills ran through my body and tears filled my eyes as I thought of the Florida kids.
I immediately forwarded her the above email and asked if she wanted to take care of those kids.

There will be 22 kids who will not go hungry this Christmas.
There will be 22 kids who will have school uniforms that FIT them this Christmas.
And there will be 22 smiling 6 and 7 year olds this Christmas.

THAT'S what this Pay it Forward movement is about.

THAT'S how you can help.

THAT'S what it feels like to be a part of something BIG.

I'm not asking for your help today. The Florida kids have already got lots of love and help coming their way.
I'm sharing this story with you today to let you know THIS is the kind of thing we want to see happen with the Pay it Forward movement.

Please join Aly, Holly & I over the next 12 (or more) days as we ask for your help and urge you to help us Pay it Forward.
Share in any way you can.
Facebook it.
Tweet it.
Instagram it.
Pin it.
We want show these people love, let them know they are cared about, and hopefully give them a Christmas to remember.

Aly & Holly have stories up today asking for some help... hop on over and see if one of those stories you'd like to help, or just send a prayer out to. Whatever you can do to help is greatly appreciated!
I'll be sharing another story tomorrow, this one will need your help! So please check back!

Thank you all ahead of time for being a part of something so big!

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Faith Baker said...

Tears flowing down my face right now! .. God bless you three ladies for doing this, and the kids will NEVER forget this Christmas! And what wonderful things strangers are still willing to do in this crazy world we live in today!

Shesabigstar said...

Tears tears tears... nothing breaks the core of my soul more than hearing about hungry children. SO thankful to this teacher for writing to you and to the group in TN who's helping out... and of course to you, Holly and Aly for getting it all started! <3

Marie Massey said...

You are a true inspiration! All of you ladies are. I can't tell you enough how thoughtful that you all are. Paying it forward is such a sweet and caring idea to do for people that you don't even know. This story was so emotional. thanks for sharing

Marie Massey said...

You ladies are a true inspiration. I hope you all know how such a fabulous idea of this paying it forward is touching and helping so many people. You ladies Rock!

Lifeasweknowit said...

Tears flooding my face this morning! It is such a good thing that you all are doing! I will be finding a story to help with over these next few days!!

patricia said...

Isn't it amazing that sometimes all it takes is a person to connect people who want to help with people who need help? Every single one of us could be that person. At our work, at our church, in our neighborhood. It just takes one person sometimes to make a huge impact. Thank you for taking this on. Hugs to all.

Amy said...

I had chills reading this and was brought to tears. There is nothing more heart breaking than a hungry child. I am so glad you have found someone to help these children. You ladies are changing lives this Holiday Season!

imlosingit24 said...

I am brought to tears thinking of children going cold or hungry. Here, in America, where many of the “poor” have smartphones, we forget that there are really still people who are hungry and cold. Bless you all for using your influence to bring assistance to people who need it!
My child’s school is not title 1, but I know that many of the children in his class don’t get enough to eat. Luckily, our community has two things working for it. 1)our food bank provides backpacks of food to get kids through the weekend. (I take my children to help prepare the backpacks. They know we are blessed. 2) many parents can afford to provide snacks at school. Each family sends a couple of packs of snacks each month. This provides morning and afternoon snacks daily for each child along with the lunches and weekend buddy packs. I hope this helps children to not go hungry.

Amanda Z said...

I cannot even begin to imagine the stories that you've had to go through since you posted about this amazing movement. I am so glad that you were able to match up the kids in FL to the generous families in TN. It was all I could do not to burst into tears at work while reading this. Truly amazing.

Megan said...

Just amazing how God works! You are such a blessing to these people for putting all this into motion Brandi!

Mrs JJ said...

As I sit here crying I am so thankful that you are doing this. Especially today's post. I too am a teacher in a low income area. I have had students that come to school hungry or in dirty clothes that are too small or too big. Students who are homeless or in abusive families. As a teacher you realize the best thing you can do for them is to love and care for them while they are with you in that classroom. I know the small gift I give them at Christmas could be for some of them their only gift that year. I am so thankful for the group that is providing this class with a Christmas that they can always remember. I am thankful for you, Aly, and Holly for taking this on and helping us to help so many families this holiday season.

Danielle said...

Such a beautiful story. As a former teacher who taught kids well below the poverty line, it is amazing to see those who are very deserving to get help. Like she said, it breaks your heart to look into a child's eyes and know they are so ready to learn, but cannot focus on more than how hungry they are.

Shelly@Shelly No Belly said...

I'm ugly crying right now! This is so awesome and God works in ways that we can't understand. I'm so so so happy those kids will get taken care of. You, Holly, and Aly are angels bringing these people together!

txcindy1973 said...

Just as I sit here in my "woe is me" morning, thinking about all the crappy things going on in my life - stories like these make me realize that my life ISN'T crap. That things WILL turn around for me. Some of these kids don't have that same to look forward to in a month or even a year from now. God Bless you ladies for all that you are doing.

Catie @ Catie's Corner said...

OMG, I don't know if I'll make through all the stories! I had tears streaming down my face. You ladies are soo kind to be doing this. It's great to see people realize and appreciate what they do have enough to give back! We don't ever really have extra money, but around the holidays I do what little I can and donate some money to nearly ever Salvation Army bell ringer I pass. It's not much, but I know there's others way worse off than us and it makes me feel good to help in my little way.

~ Catie

Jennifer said...

Ok - so no mascara this week, got it.

Mommy Dearest said...

Well I hope I can help with one soon. These kids are near to me since they go to the same Charter school as my son.. Im happy someone stepped forward for them!

Connie Howard said...

Tears streaming down my face right now. Beautiful! So great to know and realize that not all good is lost in this crazy world we live in. Can't wait to see how the rest of the stories turn out! :)

Mrs. S said...

this is so awesome what you are doing! I know it is taking a lot of your time to go through these stories. What a wonderful thing you are doing! I live in Knoxville-- hooray for the lady who stepped up!
I will be picking a story to help!

Kim said...

I am standing in my own classroom, tears streaming down my face. I too teach 22 6/7 year olds. While I may have a few who are in need, it is nothing like that sweet Florida teacher who wants to ensure her students have their needs met. What an awesome thing you are doing, Mama!! If I didn't already love you enough, now I love you even more!

Gina said...

That was beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I know someone that volunteers for a classroom like this, which I'm sure there are more of then us privileged peeps know about...so glad to hear about the timely e-mail offer you received. Good luck to the Pay It Forward Drive!!

Nichole said...

Breaks my heart and makes it bigger all at the same time. I can in NO way contribute like that school in TN but I'd love to help in any way I can, maybe donate to this pay it forward movement you ladies have going on? Please let me know how I can help!

Amy said...

I run a teen club at my local YMCA, I would love to get my teens involved in this in some way, please e-mail me if you have a project we could do and I will continue reading. Great work you are doing!!


Brandi said...

Tears, and more tears! What an amazing teacher, and amazing students. What amazing people in TN. You and Holly and Aly are truly heroes for organizing all this I can't wait to read more stories and hopefully help out in some way. <3

Kay said...

What a truly wonderful way to give back! I love the idea of Pay it Forward and I love that you're making it easier for us to help! Good Job, Mama!

Mrs C said...

Sometimes there are just no words to describe a person or thing and sometimes one word can describe them/it completely. Your word, dear Brandi, Holly & Aly---Amazing!

JMK123 said...

That story gave me goose bumps! Thanks for sharing. My fiance decided to adopt a family in our city this Christmas. He wanted a single mother, like I was, to show my daughter just how lucky she truly is, and to show her how important it is to give back to those less fortunate. I know that each story you all share will end in a happy ending this Christmas. Thank you!

Jamie Danielle said...

I'm just totally speechless. Wow!

Shannon said...

Tears! That's just awesome... The stories break my heart, but I'll keep reading. We are so material-driven, and I often lose sight of what so many around me are going through. Y'all are awesome for doing this!!

Shannon said...

Tears! Y'all are awesome for doing this... I also appreciate the reminder of what's important in life. Merry Christmas!!

Robyn said...

What a great service you are providing! It's heartwarming to be reminded that there are still many generous and loving people in this world.
I've put your story on my blog with a link. I wish you much success with this beautiful project.