By Ben Lintschinger, Program Manager, GLIDE V.R.P. Engagement, Education and Advocacy
The financial challenge faced by working families in the City is greater than ever before and the holidays are never an exception. In fact, meeting their children’s needs and wishes during this season can present parents with tough choices: doting or self-discipline, saving or celebrating. It’s hard for parents to have to choose and it’s hard for children to understand because while they may be rich in love, kids see their peers and others around them receiving the shiny, new and indeed wonderful gifts we’ve come to expect. It can be a heart-ache for a family in need.
At GLIDE, we are blessed to be able to join with partners in our community and make it so families don’t have to choose. We’re lucky because together we form a village where gifts are given and people look after one another other more than most other places. These gifts come in all forms: from a man down on his luck spending the day serving food to others in the same situation, to an endowment signifying a life’s work, to a subtraction from a company’s bottom line that goes toward something more important. These gifts, these acts of love, make this city a more just and equitable place. These gifts count.
This week we want to honor one of our greatest partnership events, the Old Navy Shopping Spree, and the families and children who participate.
The event happens on one special afternoon early each December where over 100 staff members of San Francisco’s Old Navy and Gap stores come to our building here at Taylor and Ellis. They come to give, but it’s the children who do the most giving, sharing their joy and excitement with everyone around them. It goes like this: each employee is paired with a child from our Family, Youth and Child-Care program, Community Housing programs and Children’s Choir to go on a $100 gift-card shopping spree, to get anything the child’s heart desires. They walk hand-in-hand with Gap staff over to the Old Navy store, along with GLIDE’s fabulous teachers and youth workers, and get a chance perhaps for the first time in their lives to choose most anything they want and not have it be “too expensive.” For children of hard-working families in an ever more expensive city, it’s a slice of abundance, as well as beautiful new clothing for the New Year.
This is one of GLIDE’s signature annual events, and part of a powerful partnership we’ve had with Gap for over 14 years. During that time, Gap’s support has provided over 1.5 million dollars and countless thousands of volunteer hours. Many tens of thousands of dollars have come directly from employee contributions and matched gifts, as has each moment of hard, satisfying work in our free meals program kitchen. For Gap employees, it’s a chance to see the good work they and their colleagues have been a part of year round.
Thank you to everyone at Gap, all the families in our programs, the staff and the kids for letting us adults dote on them. Children have as much patience for us as we do for them. We can only repay their kindness in loving us despite our imperfections by working diligently to build a world where children are free from poverty, hunger and disadvantage: a world where children are given everything they need to be happy, healthy and safe. Thank you for being a part of this with us and Happy Holidays.