Ukiah’s Christmas Angels
The other day I was out shopping, trying to cross the last names off my Christmas list, and it occurred to me that I couldn’t remember many of the things I received for Christmas as a young boy. I do remember my first baseball glove (I still have it in the garage). I remember my first pocketknife (from the scar on my hand I received moments later), and I will never forget the fishing tackle box my grandfather gave me (it reminds me of some of my best adventures).
What I do remember most about Christmas is my mom’s cooking. I remember fresh coffee cakes, the wonderful smell of the house when a ham is in the oven and the taste of homemade scalloped potatoes. My mom also made sure I remembered how important it was that we serve others–especially at Christmas.
Even though I am the world’s worst singer, my mom always made me sing in the Christmas choir in the church across the street from our house. Each Christmas, our church built a Christmas tree made of scaffolding and pine branches from floor to ceiling at the front of our church, and from December 1 until Christmas Eve our youth choir–dressed like little angles–would sing every night to standing-room-only audiences of retirees, youth groups, service clubs, and anyone else who could get a ticket to attend.
I’ll never forget how happy I felt when people came up to us after we sang to say how nice our performance was and how it reminded them of what Christmas really meant.
Christmas is about more than presents and I feel extremely lucky that here in Ukiah we have the kind of angels who are willing to stand up and sing, not only at Christmas, but throughout the year.
I’m talking, of course, about our community’s volunteers and non-profit organizations that feed, clothe, house, and protect those in need—these are our real angels.
The Ford Street Project, Food Bank, Buddy Eller Center, Plowshares and new winter shelter provide for those in need. And tomorrow the Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort will make sure that families all over the valley can have a Christmas dinner and gifts to put under the tree.
Year round, our local service clubs like Rotary, Elks, Lions, Kiwanis, Soroptimist, Emblem and others will find ways to help those in need through their community engagement and fundraising for local organizations and projects.
Our local churches, temples, synagogues and other places of worship are filled with people who help the less fortunate every day. Sometimes they serve through medical mission trips; other times they collect food and clothing, and sometimes they are simply available to hold our hands and provide quiet support in a time of need.
We also have people committed to keeping kids safe and engaged with after school activities. Through endless fundraising and countless volunteer hours, our community finds a way to ensure our kids have opportunities to succeed, whether it’s sports, martial arts, performing arts, the Boys & Girls Club, the Arbor on Main, organized high school activities, 4-H, Future Farmers of America, the Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, or volunteering at local non-profits.
Yes, our community is truly filled with angels; with people who care for others, who understand the meaning of service and the impact their service has on others. In fact, I’d argue that the wonderful feeling of giving to others is a gift of its own; one of the best Christmas gifts we could ever receive.
Christmas is a wonderful time to reflect on all we have to be grateful for. I am deeply thankful for the wonderful angels in Ukiah who make our community so special. On the behalf of our department’s personnel, Merry Christmas! And thank you for all you do to make our community such a wonderful place.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.
By: Chris Dewey - Chief of Police