Time Sharing at My Brothers Keeper – A Favorite Christmas Story

         The adorable little girl shyly looked up at us with bright eyes as her mother said, “She’s been waiting all day for you.”         I complimented the girl on her pretty blue coat, bringing a smile that was more reward than I deserved.

With every delivery of gifts to those in need in the greater-Brockton, Massachusetts area, I received much more than I delivered. While I encourage you this Christmas to share your abundant resources with those who have only abundant needs, today I ask you to share something more precious: yourself.

Think of this as time sharing. Evaluate each hour of your day. Reallocate as many hours as you can to serving those whose hours are nearly always desperate.

Linda and I venture to Brockton, Massachusetts every year for one December weekend to volunteer at My Brothers Keeper. Our son Josh works for Keeper.

Twenty eight years ago Keeper’s founders, Jim and Terry Orcutt, answered God’s call and made their first Christmas deliveries to 14 families. This Christmas, the Keeper staff and many volunteer helpers will deliver beautifully wrapped gifts and certificates for Christmas dinners to more than 2,700 families.

The program runs on volunteers. Keeper’s headquarters in Easton is jammed with volunteers from dozens of communities and other states every weekend this month. Many are families.

Jim and Terry are still front and center, volunteers themselves who have never taken a dime from the program. Their time sharing inspires us all.

The Keeper’s mission is “to bring the love and hope of Jesus Christ to all we serve.” Throughout the year, Keeper delivers furniture, household goods, and food free of charge to those who seek assistance. There are no prerequisites for service.

That’s right, there are no background checks, no photo IDs, no questions asked except, “What do you need?” That makes the program fairly unique.

News of Keeper’s help spreads by word of mouth and the program only insists on talking with the applicant by phone. Terry takes a lot of those phone calls herself.

Here’s how it went on our last visit. On Saturday morning, after a brief tour of the operation, we settled into our work table. Daughter-in-law Kelly and her parents, John and Mary Ellen Warch of Long Island, New York, and daughter Rebekah and grandson Vishal, joined us.

A sheet of paper in front of us listed the first names, clothe sizes, and gift lists for a family. Our first was a mother and three kids. Immediately, I recognized that the sheet of paper represented a whole lot more than a Christmas wish list. It was a human needs list, topped by winter hats and gloves. The requests were very modest.

We spread out in the warehouse, searching the shelves full of donated items to find the things this family needs, then returned to our table to wrap the gifts and place them in large black bags. After decades of insisting I am no good at wrapping gifts and proving it every Christmas, God intervened and I learned to wrap. You can teach an old dog new tricks!

Keeper’s operation is very well organized and our bags, numbered and labeled, proceeded to a delivery area where, eventually, they’ll be loaded by other volunteers onto a truck (two donated) or van (two loaned) and sent on their way to help improve Christmas and the lives of those who need that help.

Saturday afternoon John Warch, Linda and I joined Josh for a delivery run to Taunton. It was humbling, especially for this guy who has everything he wants.

Walk up a flight of stairs into an apartment where a mother struggles to meet the needs of four kids, look into her thankful eyes, and your own Christmas list just might grow a bit smaller.

Imagine how hard it might be to call for help after losing your job, and acknowledging that you can’t meet the needs of your family this Christmas. I looked into one guy’s eyes and saw that pain.

If you would like to know more about this great program you can do that at www.mybrotherskeeper.com. Read Keeper’s newsletter and perhaps it will inspire you to look for a project close to home that needs your help. There are plenty of abundant needs in Maine.

Time sharing in the real estate industry conveys the opportunity to visit a place year after year. Time sharing of the kind I write about today can take you to even better places, whenever you want to go.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website, georgesmithmaine.com, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.