One November a few years ago, one of my employees approached me and asked if there were any families I knew of through my church that could use some help at Christmas time. So I checked, and there was a small family that was struggling financially that could have used some help. The family consisted of a husband, wife and two small boys. The father had lost his job and was struggling to find another one. They were living with his mother in her apartment.
I made arrangements for my employee to provide Christmas for this family, and all was well until the week before Christmas. It was then when my employee told me her circumstances had changed and she wouldn’t be able to help the family after all. I told her I'd see what other arrangements could be made.
The week continued on at a breakneck pace, as the week before Christmas always does. Christmas Eve arrived and my wife and I took care of all of the parental responsibilities associated with this important night. We finally went to bed around 2 a.m.
Around 3 a.m., my eyes flew open and I sat bolt upright in bed as I realized I had completely forgotten to make other arrangements for the family that was expecting assistance. I jumped up and got dressed. My wife asked me why in the world I was up, and I told her the story. When I finished, she asked me what I was going to do. I explained that I had to go find an open store to get Christmas gifts for the family because while the parents would understand, the little boys would be heartbroken.
I drove to a few of the larger retailers that I thought might be open – but they were closed. I sat in an empty Walmart parking lot trying to come up with a plan. Then it occurred to me: The Walgreens in Avondale, Ariz., one mile from my home, was open. I headed there with a sigh of relief.
I found toys and candy for the boys. I found some gifts for the mom and dad, including some Visa gift cards I was sure would be useful for a struggling family. I checked out, thanked the cashier and then headed back home.
I got home around 4:30 a.m., and my wife and I wrapped the gifts and got everything ready. Just before 6 a.m., I woke up my three oldest daughters to ask if they would help me deliver Christmas to the family. We drove to the family’s apartment, and I waited in the car while my girls put the gifts on the doorstep, rang the doorbell, and then ran and hid. They waited in the bushes as the parents opened the door and looked around to see who had brought the boxes of Christmas gifts.
After the door closed, the girls ran back to the car and we drove home. I expected more chatter on the way home … but the car was silent. As we entered the house, my second daughter hugged me. And with tear-filled eyes, she thanked me for including her. All three girls expressed how grateful they were to have been a part of delivering the gifts to the family.
Having a Walgreens store open early Christmas morning made it possible for this family – and probably millions of others – to have a special celebration. I recognize that Walgreens employees who work late hours or holidays sacrifice a lot, but I’d like them to know there are times when their sacrifice makes all the difference in the world.