Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Do You Need Help To Provide Christmas Presents For Your Children?
Did you know that there is an organization that helps to provide Christmas presents for children?
Every December volunteers look through Christmas letters from children and send them one or more gifts so that they will be able to enjoy their Christmas a little bit more.
For instance one volunteer took home thirty letters and spent a little over $30 on presents for each child -- about $1,000. The volunteer has said that she wished that she could have chosen more. “I feel so terrible,” she said. “All these kids who aren’t going to get anything for Christmas. It’s so tragic.” One child simply asked for one Christmas present that he could share with his brothers and sisters.
According to records this organization was started over 50 years ago. As the number of letters grew, the public was asked to help. This year the total number of letters will almost certainly be more than 150,000, and could approach 200,000.
Most of the letters have been from the United States but many come from other parts of the country and from other nations. Some teachers have even started class projects in the hopes that a few of their students will get gifts they would not otherwise receive.
It doesn’t matter where the letters come from, or why. Workers volunteering before or after their own shifts put out the letters, and keep track of which children will be getting gifts so that there are no repeats. The volunteers also take the time to send letters to people in other parts of the country, from Florida to California who want to participate but can’t get in to choose the letters.
“Most of the letters are from very needy children,” said one spokesperson. But not all. I found several from wealthy suburbs, including one that was typed and printed on what appeared to be a better computer system than the one I used. This kid had a list of 28 gifts, including all sorts of electronic games, that I guessed would add up to more than $4,000. “See you in the mall!” his letter concluded.
A spokesperson cautioned against assuming that a child wasn’t deserving just because he or she asked for something beyond the bare necessities. “Even if a girl wants a Barbie doll and a boy wants a computer game, they may still need a coat and shoes,” he said. “These are kids, and even poor kids want stuff like that.” Many of the letters are cute. Many are heartbreaking. “There was one a couple of years ago,” the spokesperson. “It was from a seven-year-old boy. He and his infant sister and his mom were homeless. But he said he didn’t need anything, he could take care of himself. He just wondered if Santa could send some Pampers and maybe a blanket for his baby sister.” One kid included a picture of a Rolex watch he had cut out of a magazine advertisement. Another asked for a computer, and helpfully provided the brand name and specifications for speed, memory, etc. Another asked for a Boston Whaler fishing boat, and said he was writing early so that Santa could stock up on fiberglass in his workshop. Many kids included suggested retail prices. Some gave tips on where their gifts could be purchased on sale. One boy wrote a mini-biography, and then, “I’d like something for Christmas.” Anything was fine, he said, because he “didn’t get nothing” last year. One girl asked for “pencils for school,” and said it was important because she wanted to be a secretary when she grows up. One child asked for a new bed, another for snow boots. Many children requested gifts for their brothers and sisters. One girl wanted something for an aunt whose house had burned down. Another boy asked for something for his two-year-old sister. One girl said her mom couldn't pay the electric bill and asked for winter clothes.
Some of the letters were from parents who know about the organization and hoped that someone will pluck out their letters. One mother wrote that she was “blessed” to have her son, but could not afford to buy him anything this year. Another woman who lost her job because she couldn’t find anyone to babysit, asked for clothing, “even used” clothing, for her three daughters “so the other kids could stop making fun of the way they dress.”
One volunteer had gathered a stack of the letters because he was going to send gifts to some of the kids himself. Some letters he would fax to his mother and sisters, and they could send gifts to those kids. One woman found a letter from a teacher who had a special-education class of 24 kids in one of the poorest sections of a city. Another volunteer ended up taking home four letters -- two written by mothers, and two written by kids. All four of them asked for winter clothing or something for their brothers and sisters.
For more information about this organization and it's program, you can visit their website by clicking here