As the news out of CT has quieted down this evening, it feels odd to write a blog post about Christmas gifts. My heart aches when I think of the parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles who lost these tiny people so precious to them today. My heart aches when I think about all of the Christmas gifts that will go unopened. Events like this make us all ask the question why, and make us “lose our faith” in humanity. The thing is, though, that even in the midst of this tragedy and immense loss, humanity exists and shines through in all of the people coming together to love and help each other. The 1st responders, the neighbors, the friends. Every single person who hugged someone they loved just a little bit tighter today. The 30 people in my yoga class tonight whose voices were a little bit stronger, a little bit louder, as we gazed over 26 lit candles in the front of the room.
There are bad people in this world, of that we are all sure today. But there are also so, so many wonderful people in this world as well. We are all here, together, and need to remember to look out for and help each other. To remember what it feels like to need, and to remember that, in giving, we receive tenfold in return.
Tonight, as we pray for our neighbors in CT, I want to tell you about some really incredible people who will surely restore your faith in humanity, if it faltered today.
For my 14th Day of Giving I organized an Adopt-a-Family drive through Compass Family Services, a Bay-area agency that helps address homelessness and extreme poverty. The response for this drive was simply unreal. I don’t think that I could be more full of gratitude or excitement or wonder than if Santa himself popped down my chimney with all of these gifts. When I went into this, I hoped to adopt a family of two, and to get maybe 10 friends involved. By the time I signed up for a family, I felt a little over-confident and signed up for a family of 3. I hoped that we’d be able to provide at least the minimum amount of gifts and maybe a few extras.
Our drive ended up having 25 contributors donate over $700 in cash and around $500 worth of gifts to make this family’s Christmas perfectly special.
Our family consisted of a single mother with two little girls, aged 5 and 3. We were required to provide at least three gifts for each child, a grocery gift card, and a gift card for the mother. One of their extra wish list items was a bed for the mother. I really hoped that we’d be able to provide a bed, but even at Ikea, beds are pricey. I reached out to a few mattress retailers in the area to try my luck. Amazingly enough, Sleep Train actually responded to me and generously donated a full-size bed with box spring for our family. The excitement of the mattress donation pulled in a few more donors through Facebook, and we ended up being able to provide the mother with a bed frame, sheets, pillows, comforters, and blankets. I can’t imagine there’s anything more important to a single mother than having a decent place to get some sleep.
Last night my friend Caitlin helped me to wrap all of the gifts for the children and mother. I’m really proud to tell you that we were able to provide every single gift for each of the children, and nearly all of the family’s wish list items, as well as stockings. Today Ian helped me deliver the gifts to the drop-off location and we sorta felt like Santa with his sleigh full of gifts.
The immense success of this drive would have never happened without so many friends who participated so generously. This day of giving would have been nothing without them, and I can’t express enough gratitude to everyone. You guys are seriously the best.
A very, very special thank you to:
Abhishek, Anna, Aparna + Jeff, Caitlin, Darlene + Bunky, Erica, Jen W., Jen W. (two Jen W’s!), Jillian + Devin, Mom + Dad, Jonathan + Tom, Laura K., Leslie, Lisa + Chris, the Parr family, Mandy + Scott, Sara + Donnie, Sara M., Sarah + Derrick, Steph + Burt, Tiffany + Edwin, Tran, Yukari, and of course our very own “corporate sponsor” Sleep Train
A million thanks to everyone involved. You are all my heroes.