Usually, the ingredients for a restful and wonderful Christmas season range from candy canes and pajamas, to hot chocolate and movie nights. Think more magic and memories, less ba$t@rds and crooks. But this Christmas for us Lairds had the strong potential to skew to the latter. Allow me to explain…
Our sons Maclean (17) and Calum (14) have enjoyed doing a fundraiser in our neighbourhood for years. A few days before Christmas, they grab my garden wagon, get geared up for the cold, and go door to door asking people to contribute either a food or cash donation to The Mustard Seed. This tradition started almost a decade ago when our eldest son saw a gentleman named “Michael” downtown. Michael can be seen around town with his shopping cart collecting bottles and cans, and he’s got a cardboard sign that reads, “You have only one life. Many days, but one life. From your heart enjoy every single day. It is the most priceless thing you have.” Maclean thought it was wrong that Michael did not have a home and we told him, “The best way to make a difference is to support non-profit organizations that help people by providing clothing, food, and shelter.” That is when Maclean started his annual Christmas fundraiser.
One year he made paper ornaments and went door to door selling them with all proceeds to The Mustard Seed (the New Life Community at the time). It always boils down to the initiative of these boys, a wagon, and the simple ask for neighbours to donate if they can. Last year, Mac and Cal raise $80 and we matched it, seeing them donate $160 to the charity.
Then came 2020 which is where our story takes a little bit of a different turn.
December 23. 8:00pm. Maclean and Calum head out into the cold with their wagon. They are gone for almost 2 hours and come back with eyes wide, telling us we must come to the door. There they are, our boys with a wagon holding around 10 – 15 food items, but the excitement is over the cash they have collected. $290! They are beyond thrilled, and with Mom and Dad matching the donation, they are at $580 for The Mustard Seed. Happy with their efforts, they come in for hot chocolates and talk about where they went, who donated, and revel in the excitement.
Now it’s Christmas Eve. At around noon, I am on our community’s Facebook page and a lady has posted a comment to saying there were two young men late last night in their 20s or 30s (our boys are 6’4” and 6’5” so they likely look older than they are) who came to her door asking for food or cash donations for The Mustard Seed. She had given them money but then thought she should check in on the community page to see if they were legitimate. Fair enough.
What ensued next was wild…
The 1st post was someone who said, “Ba$t@rds! I hope someone has video footage of them and posts it.” Another posted, “Friggen crooks. I hope they get caught.” There were others asking people not to jump to conclusions along with our neighbours reassuring people that those tall men were actually Maclean and Calum, a 17 and 14 year old, who do this every year. I sat there scrolling through the comments, anger boiling inside of me, trying to remain calm. I addressed each comment saying these were our boys who give all of the donations they collect each year to The Mustard Seed. I did private message the two who were super negative, and one of the people apologized profusely and donated money to the guys. So cool!
Amid all of this, we said to the boys that situations like this will make you decide one of two things.
You’ll never do something good like this again because you feel burned OR
You’ll hold your head up high, roll up your sleeves, and do even more.
Thankfully, both boys decided on option #2 and the generosity of our community instantly showed them that there are so amazing people who will support your efforts when asked. In every situation we encounter in life, there are always choices in how we react and the next steps we take. If we take to heart the negative, we can be paralyzed by doubt and fear and we may not move forward to help. If we can instead harness the positive, we can make remarkable impact for good because others will see what we are doing and will join or help.
Here’s to your remarkable, amplifiable impact in 2021 and beyond.