Christmas in another house…

When I was in college, one of our childhood development classes required us to work with a local head start program volunteering and doing research. I volunteered with a wonderful program full of people who truly loved each and every one of those kids. The parents would attend on site literacy and job training courses while their children attended Head Start and were taught basic pre-k and social skills. It was a great environment.

One day, I arrived to find all of the kids on the playground except for two, who had to remain inside because they didn’t have shoes to wear and the playground had small pebbles as ground cover. Can you believe this still happens today? It took less than twenty five dollars to get shoes for each of those kids and they were thrilled with the ones I had picked up at Kmart (I was on a college student’s budget!). Then I got to thinking of what else I could do. The workers there did so much and gave so much of their own time and resources already that it was difficult to do much more.

Fortunately, with a few phone calls, it’s easy to find others who can. I contacted the local Fraternal Order of Police, Winn Dixie Grocery Store, and the Marines from Toys For Tots. In the course of one week, we threw together one jim dandy of a Christmas party. The FOP provided coats for the children and funds for decorations and favors, the grocery store provided juice and cookies, and the Marines – they provided tear stained faces for every person present that day.

My children and myself have always taken toys for granted. I hope you and yours have as well. Every Christmas morning, you have toys waiting under the tree. Every birthday, there will be a “gift table” for the honoree – its how life works, right?

Not for these kids. I saw something that day that will forever affect me. I saw three and four year olds, screaming and crying, tears rolling down their faces, because they were so overcome with receiving a toy. The chief of police had tears streaking down his face and don’t you think for one minute that those tough Marines were in any way unaffected. There were some damp uniforms all around that day.

It’s difficult to even write about it now, to try to describe a room full of children screaming and crying as they clutch a toy to them “I Got a doll!!!! It’s a doll!!!! It’s a baby doll!!!”. Holding it as if someone had just given them the world.

Truth is, they had. They had been given hope. I will NEVER forget that day when those children’s lives were changed by something which to us is so simple.

Yesterday, I had a list of things I still wanted to purchase for Christmas. Little additional gifts here and there, things I thought I needed. As I was flipping channels, I came across a report on Toys For Tots and of course, I had to stop. A Marine began talking about how short they were on toy donations this year as the camera panned to empty bins. The reporter asked “What’s it gonna mean to the U.S. Marine Corps if they can’t give every child who needs a toy a toy?”

Master Sergeant Timothy Butler: “Well, to be honest, it’s gonna break my heart. “

And mine too.

Please help. Skip Starbucks today, eat supper in, don’t order that pizza or buy that pair of gloves for someone who truly doesn’t need them anyway. Get a smaller ham or turkey, there is always a way to give just a little. Time is running out. I read somewhere that this is the last week they can take donations and they are tens of thousands of toys behind.

When I saw that Christmas video yesterday, my shopping stopped. I went to and donated instead. I know it will be put to a much better use than what I would have done with it.

If you donate this week, come back here and leave a comment to let us know. Lets get each other revved up and encouraged to help those so much less fortunate than we are. THIS is what Christmas is all about.



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  1. I work for a small hospice in Southeast Kansas. Instead of a gift exchange amoung the staff, we all give money and have decided in advance how we will spend the money. We’ve had Santa give presents to children who lost their 25 year old mother to cancer, to 3 siblings who lost their big brother at 17 to a rare disease, to patients who can’t buy a gift for themselves. This year our donation is going to a FREE cinic who needs equipment and medication to give to the poor. The nurse who volunteers and manages the clinic, just lost her husband to cancer a couple of months ago. This is just a small token of what we can share to help!

  2. A great post! I will stumble it. I also donated to our local chapter today. I have a couple doll skirts made to donate, but I think I may have missed the deadline. I am going to contact the local guy and see if they will still take them.

  3. Hey Heather!!! That is great!! Thats exactly what I did when I was in college. Never underestimate the value of your time!!!

    Mama: ~slips you a twenty and pats you on the back with a nod~ hehe

    Tracey: Thank you so much and what a great idea! I actually put my donation in honor of my Grandaddy. ~sighs~ I still miss him and try to always do something for him this time of year. Your idea of donating on behalf of someone as a gift is brilliant.

    Sandi: WHAT A NEAT IDEA and how cool of you to think of that!!!!! I had no idea you could do that!!! Thank you for letting us know!


    See? There is Always a way to help, it doesn’t have to be money. It doesn’t even have to be Toys For Tots. Go through your kids old toys and clothes and take some to Goodwill, donate your time to a school, to kids who need help, go visit a nursing home and spend some time with folks who don’t get visitors. There is always a way to help, always.


  4. I felt sad when I read this post because we really don’t have any extra cash to donate this year. My hubby is self-employed in the construction industry and things are tight. Then I had a glimmer of hope. I remembered that we still had a few My Coke Reward points in our online account. So, I logged onto the website ( and donated our points to Toys for Tots. Thanks for sharing your story. It was a reminder that there is always a way to give. Merry Christmas!

  5. Hello, Christy! Thank you for reminding me of the wonderful work that Toys for Tots does every year. I donated today, after reading your post, in memory of my grandfather, Elza Lloyd Martin, a purple heart veteran of WWII. You can even send notification of the donation to someone or donate on behalf of someone as a “gift”… a great idea for the person who has “everything!” Merry Christmas to you and your family! Cordially, Tracey Reid from Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.

    1. Tracey! Wow. Okay I’ll start off with my name, Colbi Howard, it may sounds unfamiliar but I know a name that will not..Martin. Lena and Tom Crouch are my great grandparents. I don’t know if you know them, but they know you, haha. But I am in high school and am learning about WWII and my greatgrandmother showed me the TIME magazine picture of your grandfather, Lloyd…my nannies brother! As i was reshearching his name up on line, I can across your post, read it aloud to my nanny and she said ” Oh yes. I know her!” I think the whole subjuect is really cool and I am doing a project about the Flag Raising at Iwo Jima. I was wondering if you could send me any information about him and his military career. Thank You!

  6. I actually read Christy’s post this morning. I do read some of them! I am usually busy mailing out cookbooks or answering her phone calls. After reading her post concerning Toys for Tots, I remembered how proud I was the Christmas that all of this occurred. I knew then that Christy had grown past the commercial aspects of Christmas and had truly learned the real meaning. Her dad and I were so proud that all because of her, some children would receive a wonderful Christmas that they would probably always remember. I have made my donation this morning, please take time out of your busy day and make one also. Merry Christmas to your family from ours!

  7. What a thoughtful blog post! And such a nice story about your time as a college student. Being on a college student’s budget myself, I’m going to sign up for volunteer work with our local Toys for Tots chapter. They can always use help with sorting and bagging toys for distribution, and just a few hours out of my day will help make many kids happy.

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