In an earlier post, I put a call out to meet some of the people that have been positively impacted by the United Way, and to check out some of the agencies that are funded by your donations. I had no idea it would be so fun!
On Monday night I went down to the United Way offices to wrap up a bunch of gifts that had been donated by a local business. And by a bunch, I mean A BUNCH. It was awesome!
Meeting one of the agencies
The gifts were going to the Fort Garry Women’s Resource Centre the next day to be used in a Christmas party for the families they service, and I had the opportunity to play Santa.
The good folks at the FGWRC are ”committed to creating a community where women & children are safe, healthy, valued and empowered.” And it shows. Through a variety of services & supports – such as counseling, workshops, legal services, self defense & more – the women & children there are getting help for things that they might not otherwise have access to. I’m no expert, though, so if you want more info, go check out their site.
What I am an expert at, however, is fun.
Bringing in the Christmas Spirit!
Even though I’m a bit on the skinny side, I’d like to think I made a pretty decent Santa. What I lacked in jiggle, I made up for with jolly! And then, what I lacked in jolly, I made up for with all the presents I was giving away.
As a crowd of mostly single mothers and their children gathered at the centre around a Christmas tree, I burst through the door in full Santa attire, doing my best “HO HO HO” and waving the jingling bells. The kids faces lit up! (Well, except for the 14 year old girl, she was trying to look cool so she contained her emotions… but I know that deep down she was really excited.)
It was really incredible to see how excited the kids were… and smart! One of the young girls, after all the presents had been distributed, pulled me to the side and said: “I know you’re not really Santa.”
Worried that I had lost my cover, I cautiously asked: “Well what do you mean by that?”
She said, with a perfect blend of intelligence and innocence: “The real Santa would be far too busy to be here himself, so he sent you to cover for him.”
Humbled, and choking back tears, I answered with a wink: “Now tell me, how did you get so smart?”
It gets even more touching
I asked the kids, “Does anyone have any questions for Santa before he has to leave?”
A few of the kids, all siblings, came over to me and all asked the same thing:
Santa, can you tell our mom to let us open our presents, like all the other kids did?
Looking around, I noticed that while everyone else had opened their gifts and were busy playing with them, the children from this family still had all of their (expertly wrapped) presents still in tact.
It hit me, that their mother was saving these gifts, because those were the only gifts they were going to get this year. I looked at the mom, then looked back at the kids and asked: “Do you think your mom has a good reason for wanting you to save them?” At first they said “no way!” – they obviously wanted their presents – but when I asked again, the oldest took the lead and smiled. “I bet she does.”
Yes, I bet she does.
Needless to say, this Santa (or stand-in helper Santa, if you ask the genius 6 year old) got mad hugs from everyone and drove off in his magical car, grateful to know that not only was I going to have a great Christmas, but that I had helped someone else have one as well.
If that doesn’t make you feel guilty for not donating, I don’t know what will. Donate here: http://bit.ly/ZlTYuF