Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Gifts to Soldiers Eve-Eve

Goodness gracious, it's here, it's upon us!

Toys for Troops
Christmas Gifts to Soldiers

Village Inn Pizza Parlor
Champaign, IL 61821

Sunday December 6, 2010

I haven't pushed this event very much on my blog this year, but I've still been working in the background to make it happen, Sunday afternoon. I'm not sure where the time goes; I'm constantly writing blogposts in my head, but it seems they get tucked away at day's end.

Anyway, it's happening! Our mailing list is smaller this year, but it went from 2 to 60 in the last 4 weeks. We're hoping to send 2 to every soldier.

Our local paper, The News Gazette, has been a great friend and supporter since this organization started, and I can't thank them enough for highlighting us in their paper 3 times since Veteran's Day. A little nudge here and there to the community to shop for a soldier, or to contact me for more info has been invaluable.

The community has rallied, and I remain in wonder at those folks that read those articles, pull out their checkbooks, seal an envelope and send us money. I can't overlook a donation that came to us through the newspaper, made by the Central Illinois Unit Marine Corps League Auxiliary. I opened an envelope last Friday afternoon that had a $500 check in it, with a note that said they'd read about us in the paper. This is another moment in which you'd think that cartwheels would be your response, but really, all you can do is sit down and stare, and wonder at how nice people are, and how much they care.

Yes, the community has rallied. They've asked for our flyer to print and hang in their offices and churches, and I'm getting phone calls every day about where to drop off donations. My car is full, my dining room is full, and I have notes and messages about more rolling in this weekend.

Our Annual Customs Forms party was Wednesday night at The Esquire. I supplied pens, forms, and beverages.* Elves supplied the handwriting.

It was a fun evening. We were all tripped up over the "newfangled" customs forms, and they might not be quite perfect in every way. Some first names are first, and as long as I've been doing this, I'm still not sure of what is what on a military address, so the zip codes might appear in the state line. There is one from "Stewart (COMMA) Jeremy" because Jeremy just started putting down his own information.

The forms demand to know just how many of what is enclosed in each box, and we got kind of general. "Snacks and DVDs and socks," they wrote. By the end of the night the elves got a little loopy and started to make up a few other donations. Some soldier out there is going to be sorely disappointed when he doesn't find a silk tie in his or her box. We assume the real contents will make up for the lack of enclosed neckware.

This organization touches my life in so many ways. I worry, sometimes, that I'll be come tedious with tales; at the same time, the most amazing things still happen on somewhat regular basis, that I just have to tell it. For example, it isn't every day that someone crosses a parking lot to ask me about the sign on the side of my car, and then hand me cash, but it happens. I don't meant it just happened once, I mean it happens.

Today, an elderly woman from another county called me. She was on a fixed income and couldn't give much, she said. She also didn't have the means to shop, or to deliver a donation for the event. But could she send a check for $10?

$10 is beautiful, I told her. $10 will send an entire box of goodies to a soldier. SHE will send an entire box of goodies to a soldier, and her $10 will change the direction of someone's day, someone's quite-possibly-lousy day. And I told her that my kid just came home, and he tells me firsthand how much those boxes mean.

 I love the $1s, and the $5s and the $10s every bit as much as I love the $100s and the $500s.

So, the event is 2 days away, and I'm anxious. I never know what's going to happen on Sunday. Will people tire of donating? Will we meet our goal? I pour over the budget, and try to do you proud with your donation money, shopping wisely, setting aside enough for shipping, and saving an emergency fund, in the event that we don't fill enough boxes for every soldier on our list. (Oh, we will send a box to every soldier.)

Also, a surprise. I've been a tad bummed that Brian's one-month leave was going to put him in this berg by....December 7. He'd miss the event by 1 day, how much did that suck?

I was deeply concentrating at work today when it was pointed out to me by coworker Kurt that someone was waiting to see me. I jumped, expecting to find the UPS guy standing behind me...


Nothing against the UPS guy, but this was WAY better! Brian! Brian is here! He will be here for a Toys for Troops event! My kid! My kid that got one of those boxes last year! He isn't there! He is HERE!  ::dance dance dance::

And just for old times' sake, to make him feel completely at home, I'm gonna put that boy to work.

See you Sunday!

*Please rest assured that your donations are not in any way dispensed in the feeding (or beveraging) of Toys for Troops Elves.