Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Best Holiday Ever

There's a car commercial on right now with kids talking about getting an Atari or a pony and how it was their "Best Christmas..." and then the picture switches to an adult saying "Ever" after they got a car.

I'm sure we all remember that present we figured would never be topped. I'm with one of the kids in the commercial, the Atari year was the best e'va. And yeah, I did stay up till all hours getting 100k plus on a game called Laser Blast, in an era before games had a pause button or memory modules.

But one of the best Christmases I ever had was in 1994. I was in the Marine Reserves that year and because of a conflict with my finals, I had to do my weekend drill during the week after exams.

This turned out to be a good thing. While everyone was doing stupid shit around the Reserve center the weekend before, I got to have fun when I showed up Tuesday morning.

I spent two days driving around Greensboro, N.C., in a Humvee, in my Dress Blues, collecting toys from elementary schools and bank drop-off locations for Toys for Tots. The best pickups were at the schools where, often, the kids donating the toys had given up a shot at a toy they wanted so their families could donate a new, unwrapped toy to a child who would otherwise have nothing.

Toys for Tots began modestly in 1947 when Maj. Bill Hendricks, USMCR, and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and distributed 5,000 toys to needed children. Since then the program has grown a bit: During the 2006 Toys for Tots Campaign, 19.2 million toys were given to 7.6 million needy children. In the first 59 years of collecting Toys for Tots, Marines distributed more than 370 million toys to more than 173 million needy children.

Another cool part of the day I spent collecting was getting to unwrap about a hundred presents picked up from the banks. Despite the wonderful effort some folks went to to wrap up their donations, everything had to be unwrapped to make sure we weren't giving away any S&M Barbie dolls or live hand grenades. That wouldn't have been good. Moral of this story: Donate a toy, but don't wrap it up 'cause some Marine is just going to have fun tearing the paper off.

If you don't have time to go out, buy a toy and bring it (unwrapped) to a drop-off location, you can still donate cash online by clicking here.

Times are tough for everyone this year, but I'm pretty sure anyone reading this can probably spare $25 to bring a smile to the face of a kid on Christmas morning. Think about it, $25 is one less round at the happy hour this Friday (to put it in terms most of you will understand).

Christmas is just about two weeks away, you don't want it to be your fault those kids didn't get anything from Santa, do you?


LiLu said...

We were watching the commercial like that for the Big Wheel, and B went NUTS about the goddamn Big Wheel. Apparently they were pretty amazing; at least, he got really upset when I kept saying, "You mean the tricycle??"

Thanks for the reminder. Fortunately I visit CVS about 4 times a day and every time I do, a dollar goes to St. Jude- but I'll find time to drop an actual present off somewhere as well. :-)

FoggyDew said...

LiLu - Don't know what it was about Big Wheels, but my brothers and I formed our own little Hot Cycle gang in the days following one Christmas.

Thanks for the reminder about St. Jude, I'll have to take a look for one of their boxes.

JoLee said...

Great post! Our Firm 'adopts' a few families every year from a local church and each floor of the firm is responsible for buying gifts for a designated family member....it just never feels like enough though. Every chance I get, I donate a dollar at Rite Aid, CVS, Giant, etc. in my god-daughters name.

FoggyDew said...

JoLee - it sounds like those families your firm adopts are very lucky, so to speak. You, like LiLu, have reminded me, again, of the other opportunities to donate a dollar here and there.

Shannon said...

I just kicked $25 over to Toys for Tots - thanks for the reminder!

FoggyDew said...

Shannon - Yeaaaaa you! I just reminded my boss today we need to get on this as an office.