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With Thanks……

What an amazing evening!  The weather provided us with a clear sky and a million stars and not all of them were outside!  Stars, “a.k.a angels” were all around the inside of Christ Church yesterday as many scurried to put finishing touches on the staging, lighting, sound and food preparation.  Artists arrived intermittently throughout the late afternoon, running sound checks and hanging out in their designated dressing rooms always quick with a smile and eager to thank SA once again for asking them to be a part.

As 6pm neared, I walked outside in the lobby and noticed the line begin to form, families, couples and individuals anxious to hear the scheduled performers while at the same time give back to a program that is dear to their hearts.  In the background you could hear Christmas favorites being played by a traditional Salvation Army brass band while in the distance, the familiar sound of the bell could be heard ringing from the entry way accompanied by the fall of change in the kettle.

Soon the doors opened and hundreds of people rushed into the spacious auditorium, the screens on the stage flashed the red shield and soft white lights shone down upon the once vacant pews, now filled with “angels.”

The night began with an annual award, the 2010 Anne Ragsdale Angel Emeritus Award presented to long time Salvation Army supporter Adelaide Davis.  And with Ms Davis stood our Advisory Board along with our Area Commander and last years recipient Honey Rogers.  It was a wonderful sight as the over 90 year old Ms Davis tearfully accepted the award and shared how happy she was to be there and how she loved working with The Salvation Army.

Soon the music began and one artist after the other, shared their heart and their gift with those in attendance.  Folks clapped as they recognized hits by their favorite artists and everyone was reminded of the reason they were there, it’s about “Others” individuals beyond ourselves who may be experiencing heartbreak at this very moment, loneliness, despair and loss of hope.  And I have shared with people that although we are providing toys, clothes and other tangible items, what you can’t see is the hope and joy that is presented to each child or senior citizen; the light amidst the darkness.  For some, this is the brightest part of their year as they make their way to our warehouse in December to collect their gifts purchased for them by the people within the community they live in.  The looks on the faces of our seniors as they open their bags and lift up the new warm winter coat, the fluffy towels they requested or the coffeemaker they’d needed for a long time.  The faces of parents as tears stream down their face as the bags of Barbies, board games, action figures, scooters and most importantly clothes and shoes are opened.  The gratefulness they speak as they leave, remarking, “they could have never done this without the community’s help.”  Now there is something under the tree for their little ones; they can go to bed the night before Christmas in anticipation of what may be waiting for them the next morning like every other child in the world.

We are grateful to everyone who supported this event, whether it was through monetary giving, the gift of your time or your talent.  It’s something we treasure and won’t ever forget!

Big thanks again to our Presenting Sponsor, Millennium Brokerage Group, Christ Church for the venue, Production Manager, Jon Allen, Marianne DeMeyers with Big Heart Management, sound and production crew, Kroger for providing the food, our volunteers, staff and officers.  A heartfelt thank you to the talent that evening, it was a blessing, Ty Herndon, Julie Roberts, Daniel Kirkley, Matthew West, Danielle Kingsley and The Nashville Choir, Restless Heart and Jimmy Wayne.

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