Season Of Caring And Sharing: Chelmsford, MA
Winters in New England can be brutal, especially so for the homeless. Every winter, there is a huge demand for winter clothing and accessories by various shelters. This winter, with the pandemic raging, the demand has increased. Many shelters are also operating at reduced capacity, unable to shelter many of the transient population. Members of the Sri Sathya Sai Center of Chelmsford stepped in to serve the critical needs of the homeless by providing them with winter clothing, grocery items and hygiene kits.
The first service was carried out in observance of the 95th birthday of Sri Sathya Sai Baba – a huge donation drive for various shelters in the Greater Boston area. All aspects of the service project, including the purchase, packaging and delivery, were carried out in compliance with social distancing rules and the safety of everyone involved. Sai volunteers procured items based on the specific needs of the three different shelters most in need of donations – the House of Mercy, Bread and Roses and DayBreak Shelter. House of Mercy received disposable paper products, utensils and grocery items to help support their free meal program. Bread and Roses received mostly canned food and hygiene kits to supplement their pantry and free meal program. DayBreak shelter received winter clothing items including new coats, hats, gloves and lightly used coats that would cater to the largely transient population they serve. A Sai volunteer reflected, “ The staff at the House of Mercy shelter was touched by the kind sensitivity and the timeliness of such service. As Sri Sathya Sai Baba has said, "The service that you render must reward you, not only with your satisfaction, but with the satisfaction and relief of those whom you serve”.1”
In addition, Sai Center members eagerly took part in one of the most awaited annual service projects, the Angel Tree drive for Nashua Children’s Home (NCH). The Angel Tree drive is a holiday gift drive for 36 foster children at NCH who come from troubled/dysfunctional families. Every year, the children put together a wish list, and Sai Center families strive to fulfill their wish list by signing up to procure, assemble and wrap gifts for their assigned children. Sai volunteers reflected on their experience with this service.
“The Angel Tree service truly helps us put into practice Sri Sathya Sai Baba’s simple and profound teaching “Love All, Serve All”. It was a truly humbling experience, especially for our children, to help pack holiday presents for the children we were assigned on the wish list. All the purchasing and packing of the holiday gifts by the Sai volunteers happened in a record time of 2 weeks; this could have been possible only through His Divine grace! It was quite an emotional experience to be present when delivering the holiday presents, and observe the joy and gratitude in the staff’s eyes.”
“When we serve others without any ego and come together as a team, God truly works His magic in making the service activity happen through His Divine Love and Grace. The Angel Tree Christmas service activity is an example of this very principle reminding us that God is the Santa in all our lives, not just during Christmas but every minute of our life.”
1 Sathya Sai Speaks, Vol.13 Ch.18, November 15, 1975