Open your heart -- open it wide;
someone is standing outside

--Mary Engelbreit

Our mother, June Parker, was a spiritual reseacher, historian, student of life, journalist and writer. She did none of these as a profession, but as her passion. After she died, I found myself in her sunny, well-organized office looking through the files of her many newspaper articles, letters to the editor and geneology notes, each neatly typed on her IBM Selectric Typewriter. One sheet of paper caught my eye. It was entitled "Mom's Christmas Stocking" and here's what it said:

"Every Christmas you have always filled a stocking for Mom. I want you to continue doing so. Choose the very things I would love. Find someone to give this filled stocking to -- a woman in prison, or in rehab, or a homeless center. This is the most precious Christmas gift I could receive or you could give -- sharing the love we know with someone who really needs a shot of love. And, in this way I will continue to share your Christmases and continue to be a part of my wonderful family."

The sentiment behind my mother's message helped me to create our annual Mom's Stocking Event where we collect donations of needed items and fill upwards of 150 Christmas stockings for women living in homeless shelters in New York City. The event has grown to include filling stockings for babies and young children and gift cards for teens. Friends and their children are invited to our open house Christmas event to fill stockings, enjoy refreshments and participate in giving and sharing shots of love.

Each year I thank my mother for giving me the most precious Christmas gift, the opportunity to share love where truly needed.

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