As our slogan says, we’ve been “growing memories since 1949.” This year will be particularly memorable for five area families and Mutual Ground, Aurora. Through the generous support of many selfless ‘elves,’ we delivered a fresh Christmas tree, with all the trimmings on December 13.
Abbey Farms’ mission throughout this wonderful first-time project was to help spread Christmas cheer by bringing a tree to those in need. We collaborated with Chip In Batavia, in coordination with Batavia Public School District 101. These organizations helped to identify and bring the magic of Christmas to those who may not have enjoyed a Christmas tree otherwise. Jackie Rakers, Abbey Farms educational and volunteer coordinator, spearheaded the effort for Abbey Farms.
It was heartwarming to see how the community rallied and joined in the project. A special thank you goes to all of Abbey Farms’ customers who donated at the seasonal store registers during the Christmas season to help make this possible.
Abbey Farms would also like to thank The Holmstad, Batavia Enterprises, Walmart, and the Home Depot. Fawn Gifts, Rotolo Middle School Builder’s Club, Image Awards and Engraving and ChristaLyn Cole gave handmade ornaments. The Marmion Advancement Office the Marmion Swim Team also stepped up to add more Christmas cheer this season. Additionally, many individuals donated tree skirts, tree stands, stuffed animals and ornaments. We also extend a huge thank you to anyone we missed!
This writer was fortunate to tag along on some of the deliveries. It may sound trite, but I witnessed the spirit of Christmas as the children’s faces lit up with excitement and joy during our visit.
Most families had never had a fresh Christmas tree, although one mom told her girls she had one growing up. It sounded as if none of the families would have had a Christmas tree at all this year, had it not been for this wonderful collaboration.
One Family’s Story
“We will always remember this very special Christmas,” says Beth Doane, Batavia, one of the recipients. “This is the Christmas when I told the children (Benjamin, 8; Violet, 9; and Brianna Metcalf, 17) not to expect anything, given our situation.
“I told them to pray for their Dad’s health, that would be the best gift,” Beth continued. “I asked them to remember to be thankful for the gifts of shelter, food and clothes. Then, it turns out that we received the gift of a real tree!”
This year, at age 48, Gary Doane learned he had congestive heart failure. A roofer for over twenty years, he’s been unable to work since July. Beth has her own ailments, preventing her from working. Although they’ve struggled financially in 2017, they see the gift of the Christmas tree as a symbol of hope.
“The tree arrived after very hopeful news that Gary will return to work next spring,” Beth explains. “At that time, we can give back to others. This has been a very humbling time in our lives.”
The younger Doane children couldn’t wait to unwrap the two large boxes that held lights, ornaments, tinsel, tree skirt, and a star for the tree top. This scene repeated at every house, as all the children were excited to look at the various ornaments, many of which were handmade.
A Merry Christmas to All
Whether it is because of sickness in the family, homelessness, job loss, families struggle each year to feed and clothe their families. When Christmas rolls around, their financial difficulties, and the resulting family stress, heighten. Although many churches, agencies and good Samaritans often help with gifts, food, etc., the simple symbol of hope, the Christmas tree, is often overlooked. Abbey Farms is grateful that we could brighten Christmas for a few families through the generous help from all the elves previously mentioned. We know the families appreciate everyone’s efforts.
“Our family is absolutely overwhelmed with gratitude for the generosity of this beautiful tree and ornaments,” Beth summed.
We sincerely hope that these deserving families – and yours – have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!