Former Bell Ringer Receives Christmas Assistance at Pontiac Corps

May 24, 2023

*Shallita and her daughter Destiné

“If you don’t need it yourself, volunteer. Because you never know when you’ll be the person that needs it. What you put out you get back.”

Those were the words of Shallita, a mother of two living in Pontiac. She has an 18-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter.

Her words come from experience: over the past few years she has struggled with cancer, homelessness, and the instability that came from COVID. However, 20 years ago she volunteered as a bell ringer.

“I was not in a bad situation at that time so I thought, what better way to show the Lord that I’m dedicated to what he’s calling me to do, than to do something I would never, or would be embarrassed to do. I was fairly young then, about 19 or 20.”

Being willing to do something good despite embarrassment became her saving grace years later. She had the humility to ask for help herself when she came to The Salvation Army Pontiac Corps Community Center.

“To come in here and say, ‘excuse me, can I get some help?’ That’s humbling. To go from being the person ringing the bell to help other people, to being the person that needs to be helped, that’s humbling.”

Shallita had been homeless twice, once for five years. Eventually she found herself a house, but she decided to move again because it was not a safe environment. It was shortly after finding a new place through rental assistance that she approached The Salvation Army.

She became enrolled in the Pathway of Hope program and set goals for transportation and renewing her Esthetician license. Previously she was a business owner, but life’s struggles caused her to lose sight of her purpose and calling. Her dream is to own her own spa or salon.

Her caseworker, Jené also saw that she could benefit from Christmas Assistance. The Pontiac corps has a toy distribution program, as well as an Adopt a Family program where donors can choose a family to buy gifts for. They also receive a gift card for a local grocery store.

*Pontiac Corps toy distribution

The abundance of food, toys, and household items Shallita received was more than she expected. Shortly before, she had been worrying about how she could afford presents for her family. But she feels God came through for her.

“God was just like ‘Here, I got you. Don’t even worry about it this Christmas. Go ahead, this is on me.’ I was able to get things that I asked for, my son was able to get things that he wasn’t expecting to get. And my daughter just had a whole experience. I’m quite sure she’ll never forget that one Christmas.”

When she received duplicate items, she even decided to pay it forward by passing them on to her mother: the same desire to bless others that led her to volunteer as a bell ringer years ago.

“You have to ask yourself the question, ‘what if I needed this?’ I would want somebody to do that. And I end up eventually needing it myself 20 years down the line. Everything happens in divine time.” 

If you would like follow Shallita's inspiring example, you can volunteer at your local corps, or donate.

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