To find out how we should be treating those in need, look to My Brother’s Keeper in Easton, Massachusetts. Our son Josh, who we are very proud of, works for the Keeper.

Their mission is “To bring the Love and Hope of Jesus Christ to those we serve.” More than 25 years ago, Jim and Terry Orcutt started this project in their garage, and they are still involved, helping in every way possible.

From the beginning, Jim and Terry delivered whatever people needed, with no questions asked. That’s right. They do not ask questions. They just deliver what is requested and needed.

Last year they made 9,000 deliveries helping more than 36,000 children and parents, all of it funded with private donations. “We carry furniture, food, and Christmas gifts to those in need but the greatest gift we deliver is a crucifix,” notes the Keeper. “It is the visible sign of God’s enduring, unconditional love for us all.”

Don’t I wish we Mainers could embrace this concept and create a Maine Keeper program. The program runs on volunteers, including more than 1,300 students from 100 schools at their Easton and Dartmouth locations each year.

Linda and I love volunteering at the Keeper every Christmas. The wish lists are so modest, but the Keeper makes sure kids get lots of gifts, including bikes, and always have gifts for the parents as well. Going around the building, gathering up the gifts which we wrap, and then going out on deliveries, is what Christmas is all about.

Linda and I participated a month ago in the Keeper’s annual fundraiser, the Family Walk. It’s lots of fun, with a 3½-mile walk, lots of games and rides for kids, a great lunch, live music, and yes, tons of money is donated — more than $200,000 this year!

The handout at the walk included this thoughtful prayer: “Lord, when I have food, help me remember the hungry; When I lie in bed, help me remember those who sleep on the floor; When I have a warm home, help me remember the homeless; When I have work, help me remember those without jobs; When I experience the joy of giving to my children, help me remember the agony of those who must watch their children go without. By remembering, help me destroy my indifference and arouse my compassion. Make me concerned enough to act in your name, to help those who cry out to you for that which I so often take for granted.”

Josh is in charge at the new Dartmouth facility and has been working for four years to construct a new 23,000-square-foot building which will be completed this fall. In a speech to the large crowd at the Family Walk, Josh noted that at the Dartmouth location “for the first time, families sleeping on the floor in Fall River, New Bedford, and surrounding communities have a resource to turn to for help with furniture. The need has proven to be great, but God has sent many hearts and hands to take part.

“We’ve welcomed over 2,000 volunteers since we opened,” Josh reported, “an amazing two-thirds of which are students from area schools.” The Dartmouth facility will double the Keeper’s storage capacity and triple the number of deliveries in the next two years.

Josh emphasized that the Family Walk event is “a celebration of us as a community.” And he closed his speech with this story.

“The work we’re doing together makes a tremendous difference, because the need out there is so great. I think of a woman I delivered to several weeks ago in Fall River. Her name is Rosa and she is 76 years old. Rosa called us after being evicted from her apartment of 10 years. Her landlord had been foreclosed on and the tenants were only given an hour to gather their belongings.

“Rosa wasn’t even home at the time, so this grandmother, in failing health, found herself starting over at the age of 76 with only the clothes on her back. The day of delivery, Rosa understandably seemed disoriented by all that had happened in her life but as we carried furnishings for every room of her small apartment she began to smile.

“Rosa doesn’t speak much English so her daughter was there to translate for us as we presented the gift of a crucifix. With tears in her eyes Rosa brought it to her lips and began to kiss it. No language barrier in that moment, right?

“The furniture and volunteers for Rosa’s delivery happened to leave from the Dartmouth building. But that furniture, those box spring foundations, the personally selected household items, all could have been lovingly prepared by any one of us here today. It does not matter which building we leave from, as long as we give that crucifix at the end. As long as we are serving in God’s name. We are one community, with one mission.

“A tightly connected family, that God uses to help answer the prayers of 36,000 children and adults each year. This is our great privilege and we have much to celebrate together today,” Josh concluded. Indeed, they did.

George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.