The Heart of the Apple Project in Grand Rapids, MI

Christmas in the Faucette home was a magical time. Every corner of our home was dripping in homemade decorations, cookies were always freshly plated, and gifts surrounded our well ornamented tree. I can still feel the anticipation of running down the stairs on Christmas morning with such glee that I thought I was flying through the air. Christmas morning was the big kahuna. The Super Bowl of childhood.  

What I didn’t know until I was much older was that Dad – Sid as you know him – never had these gleeful Christmas mornings. He didn’t start shaking the gifts weeks before Christmas to try to figure out what they were. His parents, no matter how much they were struggling, were brave enough to ask for help to give their kids a Christmas. In fact, someone often dropped by with that special donated gift on Christmas Eve knowing that little Sidney Lee shouldn’t wake up to nothing under the tree. Somehow, he always received exactly what he was wishing for. Unfortunately, my Mom, being the oldest sibling in the home, had to create Christmas for her siblings while her two parents struggled to control their drinking – especially during the holidays. Christmas for her family of 5 was whatever Mom created it to be with the money she earned babysitting throughout the year. She created her own version of Christmas magic.

For my parents, Christmas was nowhere close to the Super Bowl, the big kahuna. Christmas was a time of everyone around them taking note that Mom and Dad were in the category of the “have nots”– the people that the “haves” donated to or felt sorry for. It was in those lonely, cold winter moments that my parents vowed that their future children and any kids they could impact would never have a Christmas like they had.  In the innocence of childhood six decades ago, they made that promise to themselves… to bless others as they had been blessed.

This promise lives on today in the form of the Apple Project. In our family, we know that giving gifts brings more joy to us than receiving gifts.  We also know that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” Simply put, we are blessed to be a blessing. 

I feel like the Apple Project sometimes focuses on those who donate rather than on the stories of people who overcome tough circumstances day in and day out. The heroes of the Apple Project aren’t those who give money or really, those who receive gifts. The heroes of the Apple Project are those who tirelessly give their time, their energy, their love, and their passion to children so they, too, can have a better tomorrow and create a ripple effect of good for future generations.