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The Magic of Christmas

At this time of the year, I am always in awe of the spirit of generosity that blankets The Center for Great Expectations, and the sense of gratitude that fills its residents.

Rewind 12 years.  It was the first time I volunteered to assist at CGE’s annual Wrapping Party. It was a festive gathering. CGE’s conference room, decorated in red and green, was transformed into a mini-Santa’s workshop—the outside perimeter stacked high with toys of all kinds.

As Christmas music filled the air, the room was buzzing with activity.

A photographer was busy handing mothers the family photos he volunteered to take weeks earlier. Nearby, a table offered dozens of beautiful, donated frames—guaranteeing they would find the perfect one to hold their wonderful keepsakes.

Client browses toys.
Client with wrapped gifts writing note
Hot chocolate table

Some moms were enjoying hot chocolate, candy canes, and other holiday treats while they shopped for their little ones. Others were already busy picking out the perfect paper and bows, enlisting the help of our volunteers as they wrapped their holiday treasures.
While they shopped and wrapped, tins of homemade cookies were placed on our conference room table for each mom to take home. Along with three large gift bags. One bag contained Christmas pajamas for her and her child. Another, a child’s warm winter clothing. And the last was filled with new toiletries, including shampoo, conditioner, scented lotion—and a bar of Dove soap.

As a volunteer, my “assignment” was to look around the room and assist as needed: pour hot chocolate, help find an age-appropriate toy or wrap a gift.

But as I looked around, I couldn’t help noticing one young mom sitting quietly by herself at the conference room table. Her hand was up to her face. In it was the bar of Dove soap from her gift bag. She just sat there, eyes closed, repeatedly sniffing the bar of soap—and smiling.

Tears welled up in my eyes. A bar of soap—something most of us probably don’t think twice about. But to this young mom, it seemed to be worth more than anything else in the room that day.


Fast forward ten years—not much has changed, except the faces with us for the 2022 holiday season. Today, I happily watched the women, whose lives CGE is directly impacting every day, cheerfully selecting gifts, wrapping them with care and tucking them under the tree for their little ones to enjoy very, very soon.

May you and yours enjoy the simple joys of the Christmas season!