Oh my gosh, you guys, this Christmas has been so much fun so far!
Tonight will be my second time getting to play Santa's helper. A friend of mine had a friend who had a friend who needed help getting presents for her kids this year, so I hooked them up with another friend of mine (is that enough "friends" for ya?) who is in the Salvation Army. She was able to get them help, but couldn't get the gifts to them, so the girls and I are delivering them.
The first time was Friday. Thursday I had noticed the little angel tree at the grocery store still had 7 needy kids on it. It made my heart a little sad and I wished I could just take them all off of the tree and taken care of them myself. But I couldn't. It wasn't a Salvation Army tree, it was set up by the school counselor at the school my kids go to and it was just kids from their school. I know that the Salvation Army makes sure that all the kids are taken care of in their program, whether or not someone takes their angel off the tree, but since this wasn't an actual Salvation Army tree, I worried that these kids just weren't going to get anything at all.
So, when my boss got to work on Friday, she told us about this person who went into a local Walmart in a low-income area, and paid off ALL the lay-aways. (If you're not familiar with lay-away, it's where a store holds items for you while you're making payments on it.) $31,000. It reminded me of wanting to take care of the remaining kids on the angel tree and I mentioned that. My boss looked at me and said we should go get them off the tree then. Take up a collection among our employees and get these kids a good Christmas.
When I got to the store, there were only 5 left. I asked when the deadline was to get the gifts turned in, and found out it had actually already passed the day before. She said if I could get the gifts there by lunchtime they could get them to the school on time. So we went to work, collecting money from my coworkers and the few doctors that were here that day, then my boss and I ran out to go shopping. We had about $280 and my boss had pledged to make up however much more was needed. We spent about $60 at the book store, which she paid for, then we went to Walmart. We didn't really pay much attention to how much we were spending. My boss figured she'd have to cover quite a bit, but she was fine with that. But when we got to the register, it was $200. Amazing. We got the kids a $10 gift card each with the rest of the money. My boss only had to cover about $30. We were just blown away at how easily it all went.
We took the gifts back to the grocery store and the employee in charge of the tree was just so excited to see us, because she had been really worried about what they were going to do with those last 5 kids. She said they were going to try to collect money among the employees, and ask if the store itself could make a donation, but she was so relieved when she came in to work to find that someone had taken all of them off of the tree.
My wish I made the night before came true, in a way. I couldn't do it alone, but that's even better. People coming together to help out other people... you just can't beat it.
I can't wait to take the girls to make the delivery tonight. I'm glad I can share this with them... I want them to know how important it is to help out people, to learn early that we are just so blessed to have the opportunity to do so. I do wonder how they will process this with the concept of Santa, if they'll ask me why we need to take gifts to these kids, why Santa won't. I'm not entirely convinced this year they really believe in Santa, I know they've heard otherwise from friends at school. If I am asked, I will tell them the truth. That Santa isn't some fat guy at the North Pole. Santa is a part of our soul, the part that loves to make people, especially kids, smile and feel loved. And that the best part of Christmas isn't actually getting presents from Santa, but being Santa ourselves.