A Christmas Tradition
A Christmas tradition will see November, 2016 marking the 10th year. Otherwise known as the Annual Christmas Giveaway. The following article (a gift) is a condensed excerpt from a friend and fellow blogger. The full article was published on November 1, 2104 by Ted Currie.
“Free Stuff for Daily Needs”
– filling a gap with kindness, respect, and understanding—and oh, yes, provisions for those in need.
Theresa and Barry Buker—out in the snow and cold to host their Annual “Christmas Giveaway”in Gravenhurst.
I suppose, all things considered, it could have been colder. With snow falling! Being honest with ourselves, even here in Muskoka, this was a significantly cold start to November. It was not the best day for hosting a Giveaway event, as a pre-Christmas gift, to the citizens of our region.
When asked if the harsh conditions were slowing them down, the Bukers, in unison, said, “Not really. The work has to get done, so we keep moving and eventually forget about how cold it is.”
Barry and Theresa were up before the birds, Saturday morning. With a few hardy volunteers, they had most of their Annual “Christmas Giveaway” set up on the driveway and sprawling across the upper yard of their Muskoka Beach Road property. Hours before most of us got up to greet a new month.
If you live in South Muskoka, you may have heard of, or read about, their Christian ministry outreach, known as “Free Stuff for Daily Needs”. Throughout the year, they offer those citizens in need, items, such as dishes, pots, pans, couches, kitchen tables, chairs, coffee makers, televisions, coffee tables, lamps, dressers, linens, curtains, utensils, and a lot of other usable “stuff”. For those on a tight budget, or no budget at all.
In early November, each year, they put on a huge Giveaway event, as a Christmas season Act of Goodwill, and it draws hundreds of folks who have been coming to the event for years.
A Determined Couple
They regret they can’t do more. Outside of some volunteers today, they do the bulk of the work themselves. Which by the way, is heavy, unpredictable, depending on where they have to travel to pick up donations. The days are long. Very long.
I talked to both Barry and Theresa yesterday (Oct. 31/14), about how preparations were going. What I saw was a pleasing contentment in the sparkle in their eyes, because they’re doing something they love. They get a lot out of watching folks, packing up bags of FREE clothing, and Christmas ornaments, and even an array of artificial trees. All the while, carols are being played from speakers in the yard.
I have many casual chats with the Bukers about their work to help the less fortunate. I’m always impressed by their never-say-never attitude. It means they won’t give up trying to help a client, or getting them pointed in the right direction for additional assistance. Even if it means they won’t get that second cup of coffee in the morning, or having their dinner go cold, because someone just arrived in their driveway looking for something or other. As for turning folks away? It would be the rare occasion if they did.
Driven by their own pasts and the NEED for compassion
By their own admissions, respectively, they’ve both had obstacles to overcome from their younger days. They’ve seen up close, and with considerable compassion, how it’s possible to, as they say, “fall through the cracks”. To get lost in a complicated system of social welfare.
With Barry and Theresa, the questions are few, and are mostly the kind of inquiry, seeking to know things like,
- “How are you doing with the baby?”
- “Have you got a permanent place to live yet?”
- “How are you coping?” and
- “What do you need today that we can help you with?”
If a client wants to add more information, that’s up to them. If they prefer to keep it all under wraps, and share very little, the Bukers are happy to get to the last question first.
“How can we help you?”
A promotional gift to the Bukers
In the three years we’ve got to know each other, they have never once, asked me to put together a promotional story for them. They would have thought that this would be an imposition, and honestly, they don’t like to ask for favors. Even though on occasion, they could benefit from extra hands and legs. To perform the Yeoman’s work of constantly loading and unloading big items and huge, overflowing boxes of donations. I worry about them, because they’re mortal after all, and the work is back breaking.
The Bukers don’t ask for much
They don’t ask for much that’s for sure, because they are modest and happy to stay that way. What I saw this morning, in the bitter cold, made ever-so sharper by the November wind, was a community appreciation that really surprised me.
Long before they were even ready to open, folks had begun arriving. By 9:30 AM, I counted 75 people wandering through their yard. With full bags of clothing and Christmas decorations, books, video cassettes, bowls, trays, utensils, sheets, bedspreads, lamps, and even some skis and poles, for the coming winter season. Oh yes, and there were skates for young and old. All FREE.
A Festive Spirit of Goodwill
I think what impressed me the most, was the way Barry and Theresa, no fooling, made everyone who attended, feel part of something festive in the spirit of goodwill. From four in the morning, to the supper hour, they will have worked (alongside volunteers) in the cold for all those hours. I sense, when they finally pull up a chair at the kitchen table, they will feel contented. Beyond the physical exhaustion, they will look at it that so many people had come to take advantage of their little event. That so much of what they had rescued, for a “second time around” and been taken away by equally happy people, who felt a little Christmas cheer, very early in the season.
There are times in our community, when we grow weary of seeing the social and political elite, acting out their assumed roles of community leadership; such that we can come to forget, that true leadership doesn’t hinge on either. From an historian’s point of view, I weigh a community’s prosperity in a different way. Citizens helping citizens gives me a rush. Those who are willing to sacrifice, to make sure, they are not only good and caring neighbors. Knowing that solutions can be long drawn-out affairs, with no guarantees at the end, but all will be well.
Yet by their very effort, of caring for others, the Bukers contribute so much to making the less fortunate feel they’re in good company in a truly dynamic home town. Where it’s to be expected, need arises as a constant stream, regardless how much we try to stem its flow. It is the premise of the well known movie, and play, “our Town” it’s just nice to know, the Bukers are out there performing their own due diligence, to assist those who can’t help themselves.
Thank you, Barry and Theresa, for helping our community help itself.
Thank you, Ted Currie, for your kind words and description of our ministry from an outside perspective.
To read the complete article, as originally published on November 1, 2014, check it out here.
The 10th Annual Christmas Giveaway will be held on November 5 and 6, 2016.
An estimated 800 families were assisted at the 2016 event. Thank you to everyone who donated items to this worthy cause.
The 11th Annual Christmas Giveaway will be held on November 4 and 5, 2017