Giving a home, receiving joy


The motorhome was stocked with Christmas stockings and presents, donated by various members of Canyon Lake Community Church, before presenting it to the family. Photo by Pat Van Dyke

Over eight centuries ago, Saint Francis of Assisi quietly spoke these words: “For it is in giving that we receive.”  Throughout these hundreds of years, this thought has permeated the minds of many giving souls, especially at Christmas time.

There are many groups that practice the “Christmas Spirit of Giving” in Canyon Lake.  Gifts are provided for those who have special needs and lack the funding to provide for those needs. There are other groups that provide monetary gifts to help others that find themselves unable to meet their needs at this Christmas season.

A Christmas tree welcomes the family to their new home. Photo by Pat Van Dyke

The past few weeks, three Canyon Lake groups have been busy making plans and provisions for a family to have a blessed Christmas. One such group is Helping Hands, led by Canyon Lake resident Robert Sasser.  Helping Hands strives to meet the needs of the homeless, elderly and disabled by providing food, counseling and access to available services, and at times, household service needs.

Several weeks ago, Helping Hands was made aware of a Lake Elsinore family of three, a grandmother and her two grandchildren, in need of a home.  At that same time, Helping Hands was gifted with a motorhome the size suitable for a family of three.

Immediately, two groups from Canyon Lake swung into action.

The first to realize the need for service was Canyon Lake Community Church’s youth groups, Chaos (grades 6 through-8 and APEX (grades 9 through 12).

The students, under the direction of Pastor Jay Farwell, were involved in two aspects of helping with the motorhome.  First, they cleaned the entire motorhome inside and out. Anything that could be seen got scrubbed down and worked on.  Even the carpets inside were washed.

The second aspect of working on the motorhome was stocking the cabinets with food. Two teams of students with adult chaperones went into neighborhoods to go door to door collecting nonperishable food items. The youth group wanted to put as much food in the motorhome as possible.

“The students learned that they are capable of doing something.  Many times the students lack the confidence to know that they are capable of contributing so they become worried about engaging.  But each student was able to jump in and participate in a meaningful way to help this project become a reality,” said Pastor Jay when asked what the students learned from this experience.

“They also learned and experienced the joy of serving others.  There was a sense of satisfaction with the work that was being done by everyone on that day.  None of the students there griped at being asked to wash tires or to scrub floors.  Everyone was willing to jump in and serve wherever they were asked.”

Next to step in to help this motorhome become a “home” was LINKED, a group at Canyon Lake Community Church for families who are in the process of rearing children. The purpose of LINKED is to support, encourage, teach and grow families in a community of fellowship.

LINKED participated by donating new items to furnish the motorhome. Among the items were sheets, blankets, pillows, comforters, towels, cookware, plates, silverware, cooking utensils, coffee maker, crockpot, toaster oven, cleaning supplies, outdoor rug, furniture and BBQ. The group then came together to furnish and decorate the motorhome. This provided an opportunity for families to be able to work alongside their children and teach the value of giving to those in need.

The last items to be placed in the motorhome were very timely. Included were three Christmas filled stockings personalized with names, Christmas presents and a Christmas tree, all donated by various members of Canyon Lake Community Church. The home was ready.

With all the work completed, the community was given the opportunity to tour the motorhome on Sunday, Dec. 17. The family was presented the keys to the motorhome at a private presentation later that day. The motorhome was theirs.

Beginning with a donation, supported by the vision of an organization founded to bring help and joined by a church with the desire to show the love of Jesus, a family has been blessed with a new home and a new beginning.

At this Christmas season, it is wise to remember the words of British statesman, army officer, and writer Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”