This week, my kids and I pulled on rain gear and headed into Portland at my kids’ witching hour. I ignored my better judgment that it was a terrible idea to go into public during the time when they’re usually screaming at the table because they want each other’s forks. The cause for throwing my caution to the wind: a candlelight vigil demonstrating our support for refugees.
I’m horrified that our federal government is upending this country’s foundational principle of welcoming people from overseas. Yet while an inclusive message is literally chiseled into our country’s most iconic symbol, America also has a long history of excluding people those in power deem to be too “other.”
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
My heart breaks for those who have been affected by President Trump’s immigration and refugee ban. I also fear for those who have already made it to the U.S., because despite living through harrowing circumstances to get here, they face an uncertain future—again.
So with these “tempest-tossed” individuals and families in mind, I pushed aside my comparatively minor anxieties around rain and low blood sugar-induced tantrums. My girls and I showed up at the vigil to demonstrate to everyone that we, too, say, “Refugees welcome here.”
When Kristin Corona woke up to 10 inches of snow outside her Portland-area home earlier this month, her mind immediately turned to building snowmen, sledding and making snow angels with her two kids. But that’s not what Lucas, 6, thought of.
As he stared out the window at the untouched snow, he told his mom, “I’m really worried about people who don’t have houses right now.”
Kristin paused. “What can we do about it?” she wondered aloud.
That question has inspired ongoing action in the Corona household and beyond—through a kid-created Share the Warmth Club.
“Everyone has a home, right, Mom?” Peeper asked me the other day.
“No, sweetie. Some people don’t have homes.”
Peeper’s question opened the door to talk about homelessness—and what, exactly, it means. Even better, it inspired us to do something.
Her question prompted us to fill a stocking for the homeless with the most in-demand items that help people without reliable housing. We’ll give the stocking, which was sewn by volunteers at the local nonprofit Fill a Stocking, Fill a Heart, to a business collecting them for people who don’t have enough. When reading about Fill a Stocking, I learned that the stockings go to lots of people, including homebound seniors and kids in foster homes. I also learned that many of the people who receive the stockings won’t get any other present this holiday.
For at least one person, my kids and I will give back this Christmas.