Growing up in Waco, Texas, Rita Arnold* can remember how tough life was for her family. As a child, she can recall hearing her tearful mother pray that God would send food for their family. During one particular Christmas, the hard-working family was struggling to make ends meet and did not have enough food to make it through the holidays.
Her mother’s desperate prayers were answered on a late December morning by a knock at the door. Someone had passed their names on to The Salvation Army, who delivered a basket filled with food and toys. Mrs. Arnold says, “It was incredible to think that someone cared enough about our family to help us in that way.” The basket provided food for the holidays and toys for each of the six children. Mrs. Arnold, who was 4 years old at the time, remembers receiving a doll on Christmas morning. “I named him Timmy, and he was my favorite toy and really made my Christmas that year,” she says.
Many years later, while living in Houston, Mrs. Arnold decided it was time to do some spring cleaning. She cleaned out her closets and garage and filled several bags, which were placed outside ready for the next day’s trash collection. “Timmy,” the doll she had received as a child from The Salvation Army, was one of the items to be thrown away. That night, she tossed and turned in bed and couldn’t sleep. Eventually, she got out of bed in the middle of the night, went outside and retrieved the doll from the trash. “I just couldn’t throw Timmy away,” she says, “Timmy represented God’s love for me, which was shown to me as a child through The Salvation Army.”
Now a pastor of a church in Waco, along with her husband of 38 years, Mrs. Arnold still treasures Timmy and has told the story to her 14 grandchildren about the time The Salvation Army reached out and helped her family at Christmas. “I was recently talking to my sister and we were joking that Timmy is now 50 years old! He may have only one leg and have lost an eye along the way, but Timmy reminds me and my family of the love that was shown to us by The Salvation Army at our time of need,” she says.
Mrs. Arnold concludes, “People need to realize that no matter how difficult their circumstances in life may seem today, there is always a hope and future for them and that God loves them.”