GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL — Many families teach their children about the true meaning of Christmas – whatever it may mean to them.
Chris and Danielle Tibbs found a way to bring their meaning of Christmas to the forefront, and it’s certainly keeping the spirit of Christmas not only in their hearts, but in their sons’ hearts as well.
For the fourth year, the Tibbs family of Grand Falls-Windsor is making sure families in need have a full-fledged Christmas dinner to help celebrate the holidays – a project that teaches lessons to the entire family.
“It’s more important to give than to receive,”12-year-old Declan said.
“It’s fun,” 10-year-old Xander added. “Going around seeing families, seeing how Christmas would have turned out if we didn’t deliver it.”
These are important lessons, according to their mother.
“I’m very proud of them,” Danielle said. “I like that it makes them human. In a world of iPads and internet and Facebook and tweets and likes, it makes them . . . realize that there’s a little bit more to life than social media and how many likes your picture gets and who tweets about you and how many followers you got.”
The Jane Budgell Project
The project came about in 2014 after the passing of Chris’ grandmother.
Danielle had an idea to place a fork with the words “From Jane Budgell” on a turkey to give to a family in need. Chris suggested maybe adding vegetables, which soon turned to the full dinner, dessert, and then gifts.
The first year they did it on their own and delivered 23 turkey dinners.
The following year Chris lost his job at the beginning of the year, so things were tight. They said they would do one dinner, but received so many donations they ended up doing 31.
“The demand last year wasn’t as bad as it is this year,” Danielle said. “The people we delivered to last year – we kind of went a little above and beyond with some of the packages. They were adjusted differently because we didn’t have the same type of names last year that we do this year.”
This year they are aiming to deliver 40 Christmas dinners.
Danielle said she would like to deliver 100, but then it would just be the turkey. She wants to deliver the full meal deal.
“There are so many people out there that don’t have this,” Danielle said. “Next year I may need one delivered to me. You don’t know. You hear stories of ‘I just bought a new truck, I just bought a new house and then my wife found out she has cancer and now I can’t do anything. I have to stay home and raise our three kids under 10.’
“You don’t know what can change literally in the blink of an eye.”
She said though they are not expecting people to donate, “people are crazy generous.”
The family wants to continue the turkey drive at least once a year for as long as they can.
“Chris started this in memory of his grandmother and you can’t just stop if you don’t have a reason,” Danielle said.
They receive nominations for families, which are kept confidential, from throughout the Exploits Valley, as well as one package they are hoping to send to Clarenville.
If anyone can help with the Clarenville delivery on or after Dec. 22, or would like to help in any way, please contact Chris Tibbs or Danielle Tibbs through Facebook.
Each year the Tibbs family sets out on deliveries, which holds special memories for them all.
Once the family arrived at the house of a couple who were nominated by two neighbours after having a really rough year.
“When she realized what we were there for…she looked at her husband and said, ‘we don’t have to have bottled rabbit for Christmas supper,’” Danielle recalled. “That was such an eye opener. You have bottled rabbit in Newfoundland any time of the year.
“I know it sounds so simple, but it made me step back and say ‘wow.’ As small as it seems to be for some people, it’s so big to others.”
Another woman who was nominated came to the door and when Danielle went to hand her the turkey, “she put her hands up and said, ‘I can’t take that.’ I don’t even know how to cook it. I wouldn’t even know how to peel a vegetable. I don’t even have the stuff to put it in the oven. Mom takes care of me. Thanks so much…but I can’t take it,’” Danielle said.
There are families they deliver to each year, and they’ve become really attached to them. One little girl even knit scarves for the Tibbs brothers.
“It just connects you with other people and in all honesty, it’s all about making an impact,” Danielle said. “How can you affect someone else’s life positively?
“It’s kind of selfish because I’m getting just as much out of it as they are.