At this wonderful Christmas season, a lot of people are looking for ways to help others. Have you heard about the new “lay-away” pay it forward wonderful people who are going into stores like K-Mart and paying for random people’s lay-away purchases? That is SO wonderful and selfless! I wish I had thought of doing that!
We usually try to do some anonymous giving and help as many people as we can. We had a great experience with our sub-for-Santa families last year , but weren’t doing that as an extended family this year. Instead we took a name off of an ‘angel tree’ that Ryan’s company was sponsoring at work and bought fun presents for a little girl. But I still wished I could do more.
I decided to nominate a couple of families for the B-98.7 Christmas wish
To tell you the truth, I have written to them for about the past three years hoping to get some help for certain families I know, but nothing has come of it. I don’t know if my letters weren’t compelling enough, if the stories weren’t sad enough, or if there were just SO many people submitting stories that there was no way they could help all of them.
So mid week last week, amid all the chaos of concert week, I got a phone call from someone from Toyota Bountiful telling me that they would like to answer not one, but TWO of my letters. But they would like some information. Hmm, I had about an hour before I had to leave for the conference center, but I would do my darndest to find out the kids’ names, ages and sizes, and if they needed coats and/or shoes.
One family has so many ongoing medical bills, there just doesn’t seem to be any left over for fun things like Christmas presents or special Christmas meals. I knew that they wouldn’t be able to help with the real problem–the medical bills–but if they could help with things like groceries and a few gifts for the kids, that would go a long way to saving Christmas for this family.
The other family hasn’t had any huge medical tragedy or horrible event, they just haven’t had enough work to keep up with the bills and they were going through their savings trying to pay for regular things.
My hope was that both families (as well as so many other families I could think of. I could probably write 10 such letters and nominate equally deserving families) would appreciate the surprise and not be embarrassed or ashamed to have some help. So, I set about finding out shoe sizes, clothing sizes, if their kids needed coats or not, and what the kids might be interested in for presents. I enlisted a couple of people to help me without giving anything away.
I got another call the next day from one of the ladies in charge and she said they were going to deliver to family A on Friday, and that Of course she wanted me to be there when they delivered the goodies. I was a little bit worried about this because I seriously don’t know the family very well. I know the dad, but I’ve only met Mom maybe once in person. I called another friend who knew of their situation and who knew them about as well as I do, and asked if she would be willing to get up early on Friday morning and go with me. Bless her heart, she worked it out so she could go.
So Friday morning at 6:20-ish, after quite a late night on Thursday night (both of us were at the conference center for the Tab Choir concert that night, by the way), the two of us met with Shawn Stevens from B98.7, Santa, Mrs. Clause, and a bunch of elves from Toyota Bountiful in the parking lot of the grocery store to pow wow. Then we all drove over to the house. We parked a few houses away, and waited while Erin called the house. We hit a slight snafu when they didn’t answer the phone. I know that not everyone answers their phone before 7 am, so we had to do what we could do make sure they answered. I had my friend Brittany call from her phone. It went straight to voice mail. Darn. She called right back and Mom did answer. “Someone is trying to get a hold of you. We need you to answer your phone.” Not terribly subtle, I know, but you do what you have to do. So, Erin called back and talked to Mom on air about the difficulties of having so many medical bills. You can actually listen to that conversation here, if you want.
As they were talking, Dad walked out the front door to start up his car, and the whole bunch of us were gathered outside the door.
“Whoa!” he said in surprise, “I was just going to go start my car.
Shawn was cool as a cucumber and said, “You’re going to want to go back inside for a few minutes.” And he did.
Soon they got to the part where Erin says, “I think there’s someone at the door,” and there we were at the door, knocking. Teen daughter let us in, and Mom was reluctant to come out of her bedroom because she was in her pajamas (as MOST of us are at this time of morning). But she was assured that this was radio, and no one would see her. It was touching to see Santa and Mrs. Clause give them the presents. I don’t know what was in the bags, but they brought three bags full of groceries and a gift certificate for a free turkey, as well as three large garbage bags full of presents for the kids. They were very surprised and appreciative.
I didn’t take any pictures, but I REALLY wish I had gotten at least a picture of me with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
I got a message from Mom later that day telling me how appreciate she was and how excited her kids were (and how even the teens were kind of mad at her that she didn’t wake them all up to see the guests).
Family B didn’t receive their gifts on the air, but someone came by and delivered groceries, gift cards and presents for the kids and even cozy blankets for Mom and Dad. Mom was SO thrilled. She somehow knew it was me that nominated them, and called me later to thank me for helping them. I told her that honestly, I hadn’t done anything but write a letter,and I am so thankful and thrilled that there were wonderful and generous people who would help them.
I honestly feel so privileged and grateful to have been a part of bringing Christmas to these two families. I wish I could have done more. So much more. But I am thankful and honored that these two families were chosen and that generosity abounds at this Christmas season.