Christmas at TRM is an exciting and unique experience. TRM staff and volunteers work to meet the needs, wishes and dream of the community. All this occurs while infusing the season with joy and the love of Christ. We reflected on this TRM Christmas with first-time Christmas Coordinator, Kelly Trout, to look at the impact on guests, volunteers, donors and one fantastic coordinator!
Christmas Store Impact
The impact on those who were blessed at our Christmas Shop ranged from meeting simple needs to a phenomenal effect. To provide some undergarments, some basic socks, maybe some sheets or towels, was profound for many we served. They needed those things that many of us take for granted. For several individuals those needs may not have been met any other way. On the other end of the spectrum was large families. For some, they could not afford even one gift, let alone maybe two or three fun things for their kids, or maybe things their kids needed, like stocking caps and gloves. It just felt like there were so many needs met in a way that perhaps would have been impossible or very difficult for many people who came.
It was interesting how people would open up about difficulties they’ve gone through. For them, just to be able to receive something was helpful. One person talked about medical issues she and her husband have dealt with over the year, so just to have these gifts and the experience of the shop for the day meant a lot. There was also someone who came in who is visually impaired and all that she was hoping for was something that she could listen to - maybe a radio or a recorded Bible story. We were able to furnish that for her. We found an audio set about Moses’ life and a new clock radio for her. She was just tickled and couldn’t believe we had something that met her needs. These gifts may have been simple to anyone else, but to her they were great! These connecting points are part of the joy of serving others at the Christmas Shop.
There are a variety of categories of volunteers during a TRM Christmas. We had a few volunteers who are guests here at TRM Ministries. They are working toward the opportunity of joining the CaRE or SIT programs. They worked very hard to prove they are able to be responsible. I was greatly impressed with their loyalty to come daily and work hard to get many jobs done. We also had community volunteers, scheduled or unexpected, who diligently helped in a variety of ways. Many came because they help every year at this time, willing to do whatever was asked. There were some who came with a special mission in mind, like to decorate wreaths. Their gift for decorating wreaths was incredible. There was another volunteer who had three weeks off from his regular work that kept him traveling. As he has done in the past years, he chose to come daily to set up and stock the TRM Christmas Shop. He could have used those days in so many different ways, but he chose to give back by volunteering for TRM. We had one gal who bundled smaller items together for the Christmas shop almost daily. Bundling is not only creative, but there’s some strategy put into it, making it very time consuming. There’s a true knack to it, and she had it! She was a tremendous blessing, as were those who joined in with that task. We had a variety of groups that came from companies that allowed their employees to come during the day. That is an incredible donation from those businesses. Whether they shopped with guests coming to get gifts, sorted socks, or decorated Christmas trees, it was a power punch to have extra sets of hands. There were also groups of young people, from youth groups or a small college group or high schools, who worked throughout the warehouse. One group from Hiawatha finished their work by singing beautiful Christmas carols. Truly the Christmas shop, Christmas deliveries, the Christmas decorating throughout the TRM Ministries, and the Christmas Day activities could not have been accomplished or done half as well without the help of the volunteers. All came with willing hearts to serve and their own gifts of talents to offer.
To those who are already generous donors, I want them to know they are greatly appreciated. We thank you! To those who continue to give or want to give in the future, there are two things to remember: give early for the Christmas Shop -- the sooner the better. Also, keep in mind gifts for all ages, from little infants to someone much older. It’s great to see the toys come in for the children. However, there are also true needs for household goods such as pots and pans, crock pots, basic tool sets, linens and towels. Also critical are coats for all ages. Many people were tremendously blessed by these basic items. Without the TRM Christmas Shop and the generosity of our community, many of our neighbors would have gone without during this season.
Christmas Coordinator Impact
I was personally blessed in many ways. To see how many people come to help by giving their time and effort was amazing. This hard work comes from both the volunteers, as well as the TRM staff. This community is filled with giving, loving people. I knew that before I joined TRM, but it was definitely underscored daily and hourly, again and again, from volunteers to staff. There are a lot of hard-working people who sincerely give their all, to provide whatever it is that needs to be done, and they do it with good attitudes. They spend a great deal of energy doing the best they can, knowing this serves others. By doing so, they know they’ve served the Lord. It’s just a tremendous blessing to be in an environment of hard-working, giving and caring people.
TRM Christmas has so many moving parts. I was new to the position of Christmas Coordinator, so I had a variety of tasks to navigate and experience for the first time. I was very prayerful, both individually and with my husband, but also, very gratefully, with TRM colleagues. It was a commitment each day “Okay Lord, what do You have for me to get done today? Just use me; I want to be Your vessel.” I kept reminding myself that God placed me here, so this is my job for Him. That reminder of being appointed by God, as well as praying for strength, wisdom and clarity helped me know what to do each new day...or maybe what not to take on for that day.
I also saw the answer to prayers, particularly related to the volunteers. Some days we would have very few volunteers, but the volunteers that were here, were very effective or had a special gift that especially addressed a specific need. Because of that, I didn’t come away at the end of the day thinking, “Oh boy, if we would have had five more people...” I usually came away with “Wow!” – it’s neat to see what God accomplished with whoever came. There were times we had surprise groups show up; and again, it was just the right need met and something got accomplished that I didn’t realize was going to get accomplished. It was another “Aha Moment” where I thought, “God, you did it again.” He kept providing.
I don’t take for granted that behind the scenes, Kim Turley and a few others helped organize volunteers. There’s also others working with data entry and laboring with supplies. We also have several great leaders in this organization who previously served as the Christmas Coordinator or in other Christmas leadership roles and shared their knowledge of, “this needs to go this way or it’s better if this happens, or by now we need to be doing this”. Certainly, Miriam Krehbiel had created a fantastic blueprint with her manual that was, next to the Bible, of utmost importance. There was just so much to accomplish each day, but with many people’s help. Even now, several days past the holidays, there are still several things to get accomplished. But I am just going to keep experiencing what God accomplishes through several people I’ve joined. TRM Christmas is a big team project. It has to be.
Just to underscore, I have been impressed with the greater Topeka community and the generosity of so many people. Before I joined TRM, I was amazed with the many programs and services TRM offers for people in need. Once I joined the staff, I realized it wasn’t just nice spoken ideas. People really walk the walk in this ministry. They really do go above and beyond in order to serve people; in order to serve the Lord. So, it’s been a tremendous blessing to be a part of this ministry, even for the short season of Christmas. It’s a God thing!†