Every year, the youth of our neighborhood, do some sort of service project, in two events. They hold a neighborhood bonfire where people bring donations for some charity and then they do a Christmas program at a local Alzheimer facility. This year, Ross was in charge of the combined "service" activity and he followed that old mantra, "Go big or go home!"
Go big he (we) did. Ross did some research and found the Family Support Center of Midvale. This organization provides a lot of services to people around the valley, mostly transitional housing, day care and counseling for families down on their luck or women and children leaving abusive situations. After talking to Kellie, on of the awesome people who help run the facility, it was decided that they would be our charity for the year.
Ross agreed to provide Christmas gifts for 7 families, as well as use the traditional neighborhood bonfire to collect donations for general center operations. Then, he pretty much handed the project over to me. I organized all the people (I think it was 28), and we made ornaments with gifts listed, three ornaments per person. I also put together gift bags for each of the moms, added items like socks and underwear (I was taught well by my grandma) to each child's list, and then we placed all the ornaments on two trees in the lobby of our church.
Then, we just waited for the gifts, as well as donations of boxes, wrapping paper, and so much more to arrive at our house. By last Saturday, my front living room and dining room looked like the salvation army of new gifts. Each person had a minimum of 6 items, and most people in our neighborhood bought more than was on each tag. I figured that we had around 150 presents donated, even some big items like bedding, long boards, and play station games.
As items started to roll in, I felt Santa's pressure to make my list and check it twice. The more organized I could be, the better things would turn out.
Last Saturday four women in my neighborhood came over to help me check, double check, and box all the presents in preparation for the youth wrapping them on Tuesday night. It took us a little over 2 hours to go through all 7 families and in the end, I was only missing three items: underwear, a Lego set, and a stroller. The generosity was amazing and I was so proud to be able to help with such a project.
Last night was our wrapping night and it was amazing. Kellie, from the center came to help out and we had about 50 kids and adults show up to wrap all the presents and stuff almost 30 stockings with wonderful prizes for any kids who will be entering the center on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
I grew up in a family where service has always been a priority. I've watched my grandparents and parents serve so many others, that even though it's challenging at times, it really is second nature to me. And, my obsessive need to plan and organize fits right in to a project like this. It just made my heart so happy to be part of such a project and I hope, that next year, we can do the same thing all over again.
This is what Christmas (well, really all the year) is about and it was just an awesome thing.