My daughter made two ladies cry.
Usually, this would be cause for concern, but instead it is time to proudly share. For her tenth birthday Audrey asked for money to donate to Christmas Cheer.
(Warning: the goodwill toward man shown in this article may make grinch-like hearts grow two sizes or may even inspire you to do a random act of kindness).
But let’s go back a month to throw in some context.
As my daughter’s birthday approached, I looked around our already cluttered-with-toys house and thought: she needs nothing, what will we do with all the new toys that show up on her birthday, followed quickly by more toys at Christmas? We are blessed, too blessed, is what hit me.
How do I make sure that the kids know how lucky we are?
How do I foster the giving spirit?
Airfare for four to a developing country village was not in the cards, so I explained that there are many families in the Sault that don’t have money for toys. I told my children about Christmas Cheer and the hundreds of volunteer elves that help match gently-used and new toys for boys and girls… but experiential learning is better.
I first packed up a box of food for the Algoma University food bank, and then I asked both kids to go through their toys and see what they didn’t play with anymore. They did a good job of purging old items, and had some fun doing it, and before we knew it we had four boxes of donations for Christmas Cheer.
Then I asked Audrey if she wanted to do anything special for her birthday. I reminded her of her friend’s birthday this summer, where she had asked for donations of money, food, or toys for the humane society – no presents. I also jogged her memory of her own fifth birthday party where she had a “toonie” party. (Guests were asked to bring two toonies, with which Audrey would pick out something special for herself and the same thing for Christmas Cheer ).
Audrey said she liked the toonie party idea, but wanted to know if she could ask for a bit more money because she was older. [Giggle. Sure honey!]
I helped her draft language for her invitation, and we settled on asking for two fives or tens, and the matching toys would go to Christmas Cheer.
We had her party at the Celebrate Your Day Your Way Party and Play Centre. They were quite touched with Audrey’s charitable act. So much so, that they made a contribution to her fundraising efforts! Her party guests were also very generous with their donations. (I love this city!)
In total she raised $155 for Christmas Cheer. We’d read that Christmas Cheer was in need of toys for boys, so instead of buying matching toys for Audrey and the charity, her brother Andrew got in on the action and helped us pick out toys for others that he would like himself.
We filled a shopping cart with toys my son was drooling over, yet he didn’t ask for any for himself. What was equally amazing was that Audrey had done the shopping for Christmas Cheer before she had spent the money for herself.
The cashier was touched to hear what all these presents were for, as was the lady in line behind us.
The next day it was off to Christmas Cheer. We arrived with our boxes of used toys and a trunk full of new ones too. We were greeted kindly and toured through the enormous facility, a Santa’s workshop and food bank all in one. The head “elf,” Diane, explained the logistics and donations required to make Christmas Cheer happen (Did you know that they have to pay $0.70 per cardboard box? Surely someone can donate those?)
It was a great experience for the whole family. Now the only mystery left is who did Audrey move to tears? Perhaps the Party Play Center proprietors, the cashier, the Christmas Cheer volunteers, and/or quite probably, her very proud mom.
My challenge to you on her behalf is quite simple: What small act of kindness can you throw into the pool of Christmas spirit this year so that the ripples will be felt across our community?