Thoughts on Giving What We Have

Today I’m sorting socks. Actually, not just sorting, but pairing and counting. I’m also sizing men’s underwear… lots and lots of underwear. By the end of this project I should be an authority on men’s underwear. All of these are items that were donated by a department store chain to the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force for our clients… local survivors of human trafficking. They will be going into Gift bags and stockings for some 70 survivors and their families.

The problem is, the labels were cut out so that they can’t be resold… hence, the sorting, pairing, and general chaos of it all. Besides socks and underwear, another popular request from the clients has been for umbrellas and laundry detergent. Who asks for laundry detergent for Christmas? The answer, obviously, is people who are starting over with virtually nothing that appreciate everything.

And this is the perfect time of year for me to be reminded of this, the season when we are inundated with ads and commercials about cars (who gives a car for Christmas?) and electronics, unnecessary clothes and toys, and shavers.  It’s good to be reminded that “wants” and “needs” are often two different things. And that Christmas is about more than just money and merchandise.

When individuals first hear about human trafficking, they often respond with an immediate, “What can I do?” Some follow through, most don’t. Why? Because people often want to give in the way that they want, and not in a way what is needed. Dealing with the issue of human trafficking, raising awareness, educating possible victims, and serving survivors involves giving something even more precious than our money… our time.

That’s what I am giving this Christmas. Yes, I bought a few items off of the client wish lists, but mostly, I am giving time and energy. Hours and hours that could be spent doing whatever else there is that I have done at Christmas in the past. But sorting, counting, labeling, wrapping, packing, and delivering is my human trafficking ministry, for now.  It is service, it is care and it is living a life of compassion. It is extending God’s heart to those who have so little to hold onto. And, at this moment at least, I know I am doing the right thing.

When I see an issue, an injustice that impassions me to ‘do something about it”, I can’t focus on what I don’t have (money, organization, program, training, etc.), I must remember what I do have… my time and energy, and I will be ready to get involved in whatever way is needed, including socks and underwear.

-Cheryl Pittluck

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