Last Wednesday at our AfterSchool Program, I walked into our second grade classroom, took a deep breath, and made an important announcement about our plans for the afternoon.

“Today we have a special surprise for you all,” I began.

We had organized the “Joy of Giving,” a celebration where our students would pick out gifts for their parents. We had been telling students all week about an impending “surprise,” so I was nervous students would be disappointed when they heard they would not be receiving gifts.

“You get to pick out presents…for your parents!” I finished.

The hair on my arm stood up as the entire group erupted into cheers.

Students shuffled excitedly to the next room, where an array of presents from the Dollar Tree (generously donated by some UrbanPromise volunteers) was spread out on the the table.

Jonathan, one of our outgoing third grade students, chose a colorful plate to give his mom.

“One of my mom’s plates broke last week, and I know this plate will make her so happy,” he explained with a wide smile.

After choosing and wrapping gifts, each student wrote a Christmas card to their parents that included a promise to complete a gift of service, as well.

“I’m going to clean my mom’s room for her,” Jonathan shared with me joyfully on the bus ride home. “I know that would mean a lot to her.”

At Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’ humble birth in a stable. And we remember, as we consider God’s expansive love and boundless generosity embodied by the Christmas miracle, that we are called to lead lives of sacrificial love in response.

I am grateful that, last Wednesday, our students had an opportunity to experience the joy of giving sacrificially to others.

I am perhaps more grateful that they also see our StreetLeaders—teenagers like Daisy, Ismael, and Emi—give sacrificially of their time, love, and leadership every single day.

And as our children and teenagers continue to understand the joy of giving and the power of leading with sacrificial love, I am hopeful and excited for the impact they will make in our city.

Thank you so much for giving of your resources, time, and encouragement to UrbanPromise Charlotte this year. This Christmas, may you experience the joy of knowing that your generosity makes UrbanPromise possible.

Grace and peace,