[ Miracles ]

A Christmas Miracle in Mobile

I work in the administrative offices of Causey Middle School in Mobile, Alabama. For us, Christmas at Causey is a wonderful, wonderful time. Our student body and staff have always been very giving, so it is an annual joy for us to provide gifts to needy children through a local charity.

We have sponsored families with Christmas dinners, turkeys and hams. We’ve provided blankets, gloves, socks and hats to the homeless, Christmas cards to local nursing homes, and Christmas gifts to children whose parents were homicide victims. We never meet these people, or hear of their tragedies or triumphs, but we know we have done the right thing and feel blessed for being able to do so.

Our own in-school needs are met by a group of Mobilians who have no connection whatsoever to our school, except that they care enough to provide a twinkle in the eyes of our kids who will not otherwise have an abundant Christmas.

For seven years now, an apartment complex named Arlington Park has made it their Christmas project to fill the stockings – and then some – of our needy students. Their

generous spirit inspires us all and sets a good example for our young people.

The first year that Arlington Park was involved, there were six needy students at Causey. In 2008, we determined there were eleven kids at our school who could use some joy this Christmas. Arlington Park was happy to step up to the task, and began their drive for donations in early December.

By December 16, it seemed that the sinking economy had taken a toll on donations. With the deadline to deliver gifts just three days away, only $250 had been collected from the residents – an amount far below previous years. Ashley O., the manager of Arlington Park, called a few residents for last-minute donations, then headed out with two other staff members to shop. They'd stretch the funds as best they could by scouring sale racks and bins.

As they dug through clearance baskets at a local department store, two older women happened by who, it turned out, were also shopping for needy children. The twosome asked what the young women were doing. They listened closely as Ashley and her colleagues explained their challenge. Then one of the women simply said, “The Lord will grace you with the money you need. The Lord will make it happen.” Together the women repeated this blessing two more times and then they departed.

Touched by the reassurances of these complete strangers, the young ladies resumed their treasure hunt. They stretched the $250 as far as it would go, but unlike previous years, they didn’t return to the apartment complex with armloads of bags filled with goodies.

For the first time in the history of Arlington Park's holiday gift drive, each child would receive a gift or two on Christmas morning instead of many. And while the three coworkers knew those gifts would make a difference, they couldn’t help but feel that eleven kids would be disappointed that Santa hadn’t left very much behind.

It was early evening and Ashley was back in her office when in walked a tenant she'd spoken to by phone that morning. The man handed her a check for $1,200! Ashley began to cry and told the man that he was an answered prayer. The man wanted no fanfare. He was moved, he said, that most of the childrens' Santa lists had requested not expensive gadgets and electronics but rather simple necessities like school clothes, supplies and everyday essentials.

Just as the shoppers in the store had assured the young ladies, Ashley realized, the Lord had indeed graced them with the money they needed! And then God added more: within the next 36 hours, another $200 appeared – just in the Nick of time.

It was a Christmas miracle in Mobile – a divinely choreographed, perfectly timed gift from God. Our needy students were blessed with a Merry Christmas, while those behind the scenes were richly blessed with a touching reminder of the greatest gift of the season.

Cynthia S.

Mobile, AL