NEW YORK—The idyllic Christmas day typically consists of giving and receiving gifts, and indulging in a large, hearty family dinner. However, Nikkia McClain’s experience growing up inspired her to give to those in need instead, particularly during the holidays.
In the spirit of giving back, McClain has been volunteering with Citymeals on Wheels delivering meals to elderly New Yorkers for the last year-and-a-half. McClain, the CEO and founder of her own public relations firm, has also enlisted her husband and four children in her efforts to help others.
Last Christmas and Thanksgiving, the McClains spent the day delivering meals to the elderly. The security guards in the buildings they visited were ecstatic to see a family giving back together. They wished every person they delivered a meal to a Merry Christmas and a gave the recipient a warm hug.
“It’s very important to me that not only myself, but my children understand that it’s always good to be a blessing to others,” McClain told The Epoch Times.
It was McClain’s experience growing up that motivated her to get her children involved in helping others.
Blessings to Others
McClain moved in with her grandparents when she was 8 years old, after her mother and father had been struggling with substance abuse. During that time she also had to witness her father contend with homelessness. He lived in her neighborhood and she saw him frequently, but she never looked down on him. Fortunately, her father was able to get back on his feet.
He entered a substance abuse recovery program, moved into a halfway house, got a part-time and then full-time job, and met his wife. Now, he’s working in Atlanta, Georgia, reaching out and assisting the homeless, the mentally ill, and those struggling with substance abuse.
Watching her father overcome his difficulties and his subsequent philanthropy once he was back on his feet, influenced McClain’s philosophy of giving to those in need.
“I don’t feel like I’m a person who judges anyone. I’d rather, instead of sit back and judge a situation, I try to help or be a pivotal voice when something like that is going on. I think the situation within itself forced me to want to do more for others because of the background that I have,” McClain explained.
McClain hasn’t forced her kids to join her; they’re enthusiastically willing. She is trying to instill certain values in her children: integrity, treating others the way they would like to be treated, and trying to be a better version of themselves every day.
McClain and her family are excited to volunteer again this Christmas. She has reached out to Citymeals on Wheels to see if they can show up early and help out with the preparations in addition to delivering the meals to the elderly.
“The meaning of Christmas to me is, I don’t believe it’s about spending a bunch of money to buy presents so people can feel like you love them. I think Christmas really is about exactly what we’re doing now, which is being a blessing to others.”