12 December 2011
Christmas Tradition #5: The Giving Tree
This is a new tradition for us and one we hope to continue for many years. The first weekend in December our church put up The Giving Tree in the main hall. From the branches they hung the names of 550 children in need this holiday season. Immediately following the 9am mass parishioners flooded the hall to sponsor a child.
The names were going fast, and by noon they were all registered to specific families. My Sweets grabbed tags for a 6-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl. The boy wished for building blocks and the girl for clothes in size 4T. The suggested limit was $25 per child.
As I stayed up wrapping two sets of building blocks for the little boy, I starting throwing in fun extras I imagined he would like. Suddenly I wished we had given him more. For the little girl I bought a new winter sleep set and then raided Bleu's closet for new 4T clothes. In case you didn't know, Bleu's tactile defensiveness is something we work through on a daily basis. Because of it she has a wardrobe full of pretty things in size 4T that she will never EVER put on. All of the wasted items in her closet were making me feel bad, but filling two big boxes with shirts, pants, sweaters, never-worn snow boots, sneakers, sparkly mary janes and accessories felt amazing. I wished for that little girl's address so I could always send her things.
Walking into the main hall yesterday morning with our wrapped gifts totally took my breath away. The above photo, snapped with Tom's iPhone, shows only a tiny fraction of the presents that arrived within the first hour. We could see the giving right before our eyes, and it was magical. The children were taken aback by the generosity of strangers. According to a friend who organizes the project, everyone who took a name has come through with gifts... for 550 children. That is a Christmas miracle!
Next up our parish will deliver bountiful holiday food baskets to 150 local families who are struggling. They do it at Thanksgiving and Christmas in addition to running a year-round pantry. I started a donation bag last night but will be sure to include the children in filling it the rest of the way. Such good lessons for them, especially in light of all the receiving they'll be doing next week :-)