If you haven’t personally met Waxhaw’s Ray of Hope Community Outreach Program Coordinator Nicole Jordan, chances are, you have been a donor towards or beneficiary of her good will. What was planned as a 15-minute interview about her upcoming Ray of Hope Christmas Party, became an hour-long, heartfelt discussion of what inspired the program’s start, all those she’s helped, and the mission she still fulfills day-in and day-out.
Jordan began Ray of Hope back in 2013, after she had done some volunteering for a now-defunct service organization and realized that those people still had needs to be met. She learned that lots of people want to help, but they don’t know how to get ahold of the families in need, so Ray of Hope was founded to foster that connection.
“It takes a lot for a parent to come to you and say I need help feeding my children. You have to be very brave,” Jordan said. “I always tell them, ‘you’re in a rough spot, but it doesn’t define your future.’”
This year, as Ray of Hope will be sponsoring its annual Christmas party, Jordan will be sharing her personal journey that led her down this very altruistic path. When her son was four, an illness forced a lengthy hospital stay. As a newly single mom to two kids, she grappled with not only how to afford presents that year but also her son’s concerns that Santa might not know how to find him at the hospital. Through the grapevine, a couple in the community found out about her situation, and the man not only called the boy as Santa to find out his wish list, but assured him that he would find him no matter his location. Then, “Santa” went out and bought her son every single item on that list! Overwhelmed by his generosity, Jordan vowed to pay him back by paying it forward.
This year, the Christmas party is to be held at the Waxhaw American Legion on Dec. 23 at 5 p.m. and will sponsor the Christmases of 125 children! Santa will arrive by fire truck with many of the event’s volunteers being members of the fire department. All attendees will get a full, hot meal, free pictures with Santa, along with a collection of presents for each child.
Jordan admits, “every year, the wish lists break my heart. It’s not iPads and tablets; they don’t ask for any of that. I have a teenager, his list was mechanical pencils, blank drawing paper and a warm blanket for him and his three brothers.”
And while gift-giving is always appreciated, Jordan wants the community to know that a contribution doesn’t always have to cost money. Perhaps it’s writing a letter to a deployed soldier, or a thank you to the police department for keeping you safe or just sharing the Ray of Hope posts on Facebook to get the word out that there is someone in need.
“It’s just about spreading kindness,” Jordan said.