By: Sally O’Dwyer, Staff Spotlight
The power of the Christmas spirit leads many people to seek out ways to give to others. Gift-giving at Christmas is a tradition that began with the Three Kings, who came to Bethlehem to pay homage to the greatest King of all. Inspired by the birth of the Christ Child, the greatest treasure ever bestowed to mankind, we seek to give tangible gifts to others as an expression of the miracle that is Christmas. When we give a gift to someone at Christmas, we want them to know how extraordinary they are. We also want to give just the right gift—a thoughtful gift that shows our love and acknowledges that they are a unique person, made in God’s image.
This Christmas, among many generous people and parishes and other groups, a corporation came to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, seeking an opportunity to do something special for poor families. They wanted to give to the children something that all kids love: bicycles! The company, F5 Networks, Inc., provides computer networking, which makes both networks and applications run faster. They are rated by Glassdoor.com as a top 10 company to work for in the U.S. Lyle Marsh, Field Systems Engineer for F5, is a believer that it is through giving that we truly receive. He wanted his staff to come together and share in the joy of giving and organized a bike-building party for his team. The team from F5 chipped in to purchase about 25 bikes.
As all parents know, bikes come in boxes and have to be assembled. Volunteers that attended the party were mostly engineers and computer specialists, family members and children. With the use of the assembly manuals, they were able to put together all of the bikes, with only a few left over pieces remaining! Along with Catholic Charities, several parishes came together to make this event possible: the bike-building party was held at St. Luke Catholic Parish. The St. Faustina Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society for St. Matthew and St. Patrick Catholic parishes in Spotsylvania County distributed the bikes to children in the area who would otherwise likely go without. Their families are the rural poor of our Diocese. The vast majority are on food stamps, living paycheck to paycheck — if they are fortunate enough to have a regular job. Many live in small, single wide mobile homes on dirt roads in Spotsylvania and Orange Counties.
The bicycles they put together are special. They are not special simply because they are “Hello Kitty,” “Mongoose Models,” or have fancy handle bars with bells and horns. They are special because they were put together with love. As the team sat on the floor assembling the bikes, they thought about the children that would be receiving them. They thought about the shrieks of delight and the smiles that would be on their faces Christmas morning as they woke to find a new bike, just for them. Even though the bike assemblers would be strangers to the children, they wanted them to know, especially on Christmas, that they are loved.
Staff Spotlight is — in an ongoing effort to get a range of content on Encourage & Teach — content from staff members within the Diocese of Arlington from contributors who do not write as a part of their day-to-day job.
Sally O’Dwyer holds a Master’s Degree from The Monterey Institute of International Policy Studies. She is the Director of Volunteers for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington.