At St. Mary's Church, Father Lafferty is polishing the woodwork. The cleaning woman, Mrs. Wilson, steps into his office for a moment. They hear a squeaking noise outside and Mrs. Wilson goes to investigate and discovers that the church's statue, the Madonna, is missing.
Pete and MacGyver are loading presents for the Foundation's gift drive and MacGyver hears "I'll Be Home for Christmas" on the radio and turns it off, complaining that the season is too sappy. Pete notes that he knows how hard the season is for MacGyver since he lost his mother during the holiday season.
A bag woman, Carol, is making her way down the alley when two punks start harassing her. They take her cart and run off down the alleyway. Pete and MacGyver see them as Carol chases after them and trips. They come to Carol's aid, chasing off the punks. MacGyver notices she's cut her left hand but Carol says it's just a scratch. MacGyver offers to take her to the Challengers Club to stay for a while and Carol cheerfully accepts.
At the Challenger Club, the local teens are playing basketball outside when Cynthia Wilson comes out. She confronts their leader, Breeze, and wants to know when they're going to help with their Christmas show. Breeze tries to put her off but Cynthia insists that he get to work. Breeze reluctantly agrees and starts unloading the presents when Pete, MacGyver, and Carol arrive in the van. Cynthia complains that donations are down and the new landlord is demanding additional rent. They need $9,000 by the end of the week. Carol overhears her and assures her that she'll have her act together by then. Cynthia invites her in but it's clear her spirit isn't in it.
Inside, MacGyver binds Carol's hand while Pete admits that he can't get the Foundation to exceed their budget for at least six months. Cynthia tries to get Breeze, the stage manager, to work. He angrily storms off, saying the day isn't any different than any other. Carol turns on the TV to a newscast about the theft of the handcarved Madonna. Pete and MacGyver overhear the newscast and MacGyver recognizes Lafferty as a friend from his hometown. The two men go to the church to help while Carol smiles knowingly.
At St. Mary's, Pete and MacGyver offer their help but Father Lafferty says it doesn't look good. Mrs. Wilson mentions that they've had the handcarved wooden statue for 20 years, since Vincent Battaglia presented it to the church. She insists that Battaglia has had a grudge against the church for 15 years and stole the Madonna. Father Lafferty gives the men the address of Battaglia's furniture store. Battaglia isn't interested in talking to them and isn't interested in the theft. As they leave, they walk by a streetcorner Santa and Pete leaves him some money. The Charity Santa Claus is less than enthusiastic despite Pete's efforts. However, the Santa Claus says he may have heard about the Madonna. Once they both pay him, the Santa Claus tells them that he saw a bag lady in the alley pushing a squeaky old cart, and she might have had a statue in it. As they leave, Battaglia watches them from his store window. He goes back inside and unlocks a cabinet, and then removes an old cardboard box and looks at it remorsefully.
MacGyver and Pete return to the Challengers Club where Carol is assaulting a drunken Santa Claus and saying that he's maligning the uniform he's wearing. The men ask Carol if they can look in her shopping cart. They don't find anything except a gnome statue. Inside the club, they regroup and a young girl, Violet, gives MacGyver a carved statue, cheering him up. Meanwhile, Breeze and his friends try to move the stage but succeed in knocking over some weights. Cynthia snaps at Breeze, who walks off. She tries to stop him, insisting she's depending on him, but Breeze says that it's every man for himself. Cynthia refuses to accept that and reminds him that she's counting on him, but he walks out with the others. MacGyver offers to get him but Cynthia tells him to let Breeze go. Pete goes to check with Father Lafferty while MacGyver helps the remaining children move the stage using weights. He then checks on Cynthia, who says the bank called and time is out. She starts to pack but MacGyver insists that she can't abandon all the children. Cynthia admits she can't keep the dream going without her husband, Booker. She breaks into tears as she considers a photo of her dead husband, and says it was a special time for them. Carol overhears the entire conversation.
Carol goes to the pool hall where Breeze is hanging out. She challenges him to a game and taunts him into playing. Breeze loses the break and Carol misses her first shot, sending the cue ball off the table. She claims she's just trying to lull him into a false sense of security. Breeze takes his next shot and almost knocks the eight ball in. Carol winks at it... and it falls in, winning her the game. Carol asks if Breeze learned how to play pool from his father, and mentions that Cynthia is hurting and needs his help. She talks about Christmas and how it's about giving. Breeze thinks about what she's saying.
MacGyver goes back to St. Mary's and finds Battaglia there. He admits he had to see for himself that the Madonna was missing. Battaglia talks about how he prayed to the Madonna for a miracle when his wife took ill, but she died anyway. He wonders how God could take her and leave him with pain, and MacGyver admits he doesn't know how to deal with it either.
Breeze arrives and offers his help, apologizing to Cynthia. She asks Carol what she said to Breeze but the bag lady says that she only played him a game of pool.
The night of the show, Carol tells MacGyver that Violet, the lead angel, is suffering from stage fright. As he goes to talk to the girl, Cynthia recruits Pete to help her. MacGyver tells Violet how his mother gave him a secret word, "ice cream," to overcome his nervousness when he had to perform. He tells her the word, reassuring her. Outside, Father Lafferty arrives and Carol congratulates him on his sermons. He doesn't recognize her and she says that she typically wears something more elegant. Violet and MacGyver come outside and MacGyver talks to Breeze, asking for his help. They ask Breeze to pull together kids to canvass the neighborhood after the show and Breeze agrees.
The show begins and Violet gets nervous. MacGyver reminds her of the secret word and she comes out to perform.
At his shop, Battaglia considers the box and then hugs a picture of himself and his wife to his chest.
As the show continues, MacGyver goes to see Cynthia in her office. She warns that they're still $2,711 short. As they go back outside, Carol whispers something to Breeze, who is manning the lighting controls. He goes on stage and thanks Cynthia and Booker for their work on the club. He calls Cynthia to the stage and she performs "I'll Be Home for Christmas," her and Booker's favorite song. MacGyver remembers the song and goes outside. Father Lafferty follows him out and says he remembers how much the song meant to MacGyver and his mother. MacGyver blames himself for not being there for his mother and Lafferty says he shouldn't beat him up over something he can't change. MacGyver describes how he called his mother on Christmas and told her how he couldn't make it back home, and how she understood. She suffered from a stroke the next day and died before he got back. Lafferty insists that it wouldn't have made a difference and that she wouldn’t have known he was there. His mother just mentioned his name and "ice cream." Cheered, MacGyver goes back inside and waves to Cynthia, who finishes the song. As she finishes, Pete comes in dressed as Santa Claus to hand out presents. Carol goes outside, smiling.
Breeze calls Cynthia into her office and shows her that there's exactly $2,711 dollars in the donation bubble. It was wrapped in a piece of cloth belonging to Carol.
On the streets, Carol walks away, smiling and bathed in a glow of light.
Later, Pete and MacGyver go to the church where Father Lafferty is praying. They tell him they've had no luck finding the Madonna. Father Lafferty talks of how it'll be the first Christmas Mass in 20 years without the Madonna. Battaglia arrives with the box and gives it to Lafferty. Inside is a handcarved statue of the Christ child, which he carved to go with the Madonna. They're interrupted when a boy, Casey, comes in. He's pulling a squeaky wagon and the Madonna is resting on it. He explains that he promised to take the Madonna for a ride and found it outside waiting for him. Battaglia places the Madonna on its stand and the Christ child in its arms. As he does so, he notices that there's a scratch on the Madonna's left hand.