Compassion and understanding

Mary Fox

Photo by Stacey kennelly

Mary Fox will be the first to tell you she’s one of hundreds in Chico who have helped make the holidays a little brighter for the needy. But Fox, a volunteer of six years at the Jesus Center, does more than meet “simple needs” like she claims. She spends most of her time these days in the center’s newly opened Free Store, where she focuses on providing compassion, understanding and love to the needy—and of course, the clothes they need to keep warm.

How did you start volunteering?

I have lived and worked in inner cities where I have always had a concern for the needs of the poor, abused women and others. I came here because of a mission to offer hospitality in the name of Jesus. That means meeting the needs of the strangers and showing compassion. What I like about here is the one-on-one contact, because I like people. Just having lived a few decades, I feel like I have a lot of life experience to share.

How do the needs of people change this time of year?

With the cold weather and holidays, we have a huge influx and a greater number of people coming in. It begins at Thanksgiving. We get support from across the community. We just had more than 3,000 people in the Run for Food. That was a huge success. Donations and clothes just pour in this time of year.

What do you have too much of?

There’s never too much, but we get a lot of sweaters, sleepwear, clothing and lots of women’s shoes. But we can always use men’s coats, pants and sweaters. Those things go out about as fast as they come in.

How do you find time for yourself?

You’ve probably heard this before, but busy people always have time. And it’s not as much time as it gives my life a purpose. I feel God’s pleasure when I help needy people. Whether you’re a street person, an abused mom or a CEO, every individual has worth. There are hundreds and hundreds of volunteers. I just do a small part. There’s need everywhere.

What do you want for Christmas?

I just want to be together with my family.