By Amy Cleary | for The Irish Loop Post, January 10 2019 (Vol. 12 No. 1)
While most people are planning to spend the holiday season with family and friends, Jaime Ryan, the owner of The Sweet Newfie Shop in Mount Pearl, plans to make Michelle Morgan’s wish list come true. Just like she has for other families in Christmas’s past.
Ryan decided to take on the challenge of helping a family at Christmas to teach her daughter Brooklyn about kindness.
“This was my mom’s idea,” said Brooklyn. “Like most kids, I didn’t understand the true meaning of Christmas.”
Over the past five years, the Ryan family has helped five different families. Every year, the experience becomes bigger and bigger.
“The more people helping means more events and more donations,” said Brooklyn. “Last year, we did everything from the shop and then this year we are looking for somewhere bigger to do everything because we can’t keep up. There’s no room for all the deliveries from the volunteers.”
The volunteers, like Christmas elves, do what they can to create a Christmas miracle for the sponsor family Jamie Ryan has decided to help. One of the early volunteers is Nathaniel Noel, a soap stone artist. Noel has been helping Jamie since the beginning, by donating beautiful pieces of art, so that she can auction them off to raise money for the wish list.
Noel says Ryan’s motives are clear. “This isn’t for her to capitalize on Christmas,” said Noel.
“Whomever didn’t want him up there in heaven, decided to give him to me.”
Before Jamie and the volunteers get to work, the process of finding a sponsor family begins with Facebook.
“Usually what happens [is] someone will message my mom with their story and then we will choose someone who we feel truly deserves it,” said Brooklyn.
This year, they have decided to sponsor the Morgan family from Long Pond.
“Well, we decided to help Michelle Morgan because she is a close family friend and as Jaxson gets older, it’s not cheap or easy to buy everything that he needs,” said Brooklyn.
Michelle Morgan is a single mother with a five-year old son with special needs.
“Jaxson was without oxygen to his brain for eight minutes,” said Morgan.
He is a non-verbal autistic child with cerebral palsy.
“Whomever didn’t want him up there in heaven, decided to give him to me,” said Morgan.
The Morgan family bond has become strong over the years.
“He was in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) for two months at Sick Kids in Toronto,” said Morgan. “The doctors were thinking he might need a liver transplant but thankfully fully he didn’t need it.”
Almost six months later, Jaxson almost lost his mom.
“When Jaxson was six months old, I got a flesh-eating disease,” said Morgan. “I was in the hospitable for roughly about two months in a coma, not knowing I was even in there for that long.”
While Morgan was in a coma, her 71-year-old mother took care of Jaxson.
“She had to re-learn how to bathe a child because of all of the tubes,” said Morgan. “I was her baby, so she was worried about me and she was trying to keep up with him. They told her that she would lose me. She had no idea how she was going to raise a baby.”
Even with all the lows in her life, Ryan says Morgan stays positive.
“I don’t ask for anything because I have him and that’s all I ever need.”
“Michelle will make you think that everything is great in her life because she always has a smile on her face,” said Ryan.
Even with Morgan’s sunny personality, she does need help. According to Ryan, Jaxson has grown out of his stability chair. Ryan plans to supply the Morgan family with a new one.
“He’s outgrown the other one and its chaffing on him, so we kind of convinced her [she] need this,” said Ryan.
Ryan says the difficulty was figuring out what else Morgan would enjoy.
“I asked her to write a wish list for her and Jaxson, and all I got was a wish list for Jaxson,” said Ryan.
Her son, says Morgan, is enough.
“I don’t ask for anything because I have him and that’s all I ever need,” said Morgan.
Ryan intends on giving the Morgan family a Christmas to remember with events planned throughout December. They have a paint night scheduled and are in the process of arranging an adult get together before Christmas. Ryan and her daughter plan to continue sponsoring a family next year so that they can help the next person who may need an extra bit of kindness this holiday season.