When I heard about Eden collecting point donations this year for contributors to adopt a local family to give them a wonderful Christmas, my heart warmed. I was truly inspired! The first thing I did was start brainstorming, keeping my ears peeled for organizations I could join with to volunteer on behalf of EdenFantasys.
Then I wrote my family, asking that instead of gifts for Christmas this year, we exchange stories of the families we’ve given the gift of Christmas. This was all I ever wanted for Christmas. Every year I dreaded opening gifts my parents had spent their hard-earned money on, knowing that try as they might, they were often gifts I’d never use again. My heart ached each year at the thought of them wasting their money on me. I have a home, I have heat, clothes on my back, gas in my truck, and what do I need for Christmas? Not a damn thing. It was time to let others bathe in the joy of gift-giving.
I heard on the radio a couple days later about the university I work for sponsoring a program called Circle of Love, a version of the angel tree. I searched for a few days for elusive information on how to get on board, and finally was put in contact with the lady in charge. I happened to receive a mass email at work requesting for more volunteers – it was only a week until deadline and still 11 out of the 17 children selected by a local elementary school’s counselor were without sponsors! Pumped about the amount of money Eden had promised to provide, and motivated by the idea of 11 children who I could not let go another Christmas without getting at least a new outfit and a toy, I wrote Ms. Cage and asked her to sign me up… for all 11 of them! However, by the time she got back with me, only 3 children remained. I set my heart on making this Christmas the best Christmas yet for three lucky little girls.
I hit up TJ Maxx and Michael’s, Meijer and the dollar store, and was ready to go! I had carefully and thoughtfully hand-picked some seriously awesome clothes for the 5 and 8 year old gals on my list, and found some wonderful toys for the baby.
Once I got home, I laid out my loot.
Then I marked out the prices with a Sharpie on each item, separated the kids’ clothes into piles, and stood back to admire my handiwork. Christmas music was playing on the stereo and I was feeling warm, inside and out.
For the 8 year old, Aireyanna, I’d gotten a beautiful new cotton dress, a set of winter boots and cute sporty flats, a pair of jeans, panties and socks, and the dolls she’d requested. Both were fairies, and one had a light-up dress that played magical music! I was taken back to my childhood days. I threw in a little clay modeling set as well, and a new black styling winter coat. I was impressed by the selection of super-cute clothes at TJ Maxx! Wish they’d had stuff this cute when I was a kid… all we had were ugly sweaters, paisley-print vests and pants with stirrups.
For Shantaevion, wrestling figures were requested! This made me smile. A little tomboy… how lovely! She got 2 new pairs of shoes, jeans, a new coat, panties, a kaleidoscope (I could look into mine for hours as a kid!) and a little decorate-your-own-jewelry-box kit.
The 18-month-old’s parents requested clothing and light-up toys for her. She got the classic telephone toy we all played with as kids, some bathtime toys, a musical octopus (!), sockies, baby shoes and a couple new outfits. Little kissing birdies graced the front of her cotton shirt.
The only thing I regretted, as I told a friend who helped me shop, was not being able to see the kids’ faces when they opened their presents Christmas morning. I had a good time imagining them though! You know how excited kids get over presents. My hopes are that this will be the best Christmas ever for these kids.
About 2 weeks after I finished shopping and turned in my now-due presents, I received a most beautiful, surprising email – the original quote of $300 budget had now been raised to $664! Holy shit! I called my boyfriend into the room to see the figures… what a glorious gift. And now, who to give to?
I googled local angel trees and their deadlines had all just passed. I found via another EF volunteer’s forum post, a link to a site to donate money to a program that packaged goods and delights to be shipped to soldiers overseas. I donated $200 to their cause, and I’m sure it will be well-received!
Then I found my local Salvation Army’s site. Their angel tree’s deadline was in only a few hours. I donated $164 to them instead. I know it would be put to good use.
Participating in this program has made me prouder than ever to be part of Eden. It really put me in the Christmas spirit this year, and I am so glad I was able to pass it forward: to the children, the soldiers, and those under care of SalVal, and also to my family, who was inspired by my letter, and have gone out on their own to adopt families this year.
I sincerely thank EdenFantasys. They do so much for their contributors already, and this is just icing on the cake. This is the most amazing community I’ve ever been part of.