So today I was all geared up and excited for my Operation Santa duties. It’s a great initiative which a lovely friend introduced me to. You get to be ‘Santa’ for a needy child who has sent a letter to the man himself, by buying the things they have requested and returning to the post office with them wrapped, and then pay to get them shipped. It also happens to be at one of my favorite buildings in the city, the post office on 8th Avenue. The building itself is beautiful, but it’s the quote that gets me every time: ‘Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.’ A bit classier than anything the Royal Mail has come up with (including The Real Network!)
I packed every piece of official ID I have – my passport, social security card, US visa, employment authorization card, bank cards, you name it – I had it. Apart from a drivers’ license or other state issued DMV ID (I don’t have an American one and my British one doesn’t count apparently), so they wouldn’t let me take part. I felt so sad as there was a HUGE pile of letters waiting to be answered. Seriously, it was about a foot high – and with 2 days left to go and only one other family there taking part, I doubt they are going to get answered. Despite my pleas, they just wouldn’t let me do it. ‘Rules is rules’ as they say.
Luckily, my brother wanted to do a bit of extra toy shopping and that provided me with a chance to rectify the morning’s epic fail and complete a one good thing (although I have to admit it was slightly less satisfying). So the inevitable trip to FAO Schwartz took place. We found the big piano, but didn’t have a go as there was a line of children waiting and I don’t think they would have been happy with 2 grown adults playing chopsticks! A gift was purchased and at the register there was a chance to donate to Toys for Tots, an organization trying to bring joy to disadvantaged children this (and every) Christmas. I suppose the outcome is the same – a chance to share some joy by buying a child’s toy, but the donation felt too easy, and I really wanted the personal touch of answering a letter. So I’m already planning for next year and applying for my DMV ID…
This project began as an idea in November, and despite not having much time to get organized I just decided to go for it – I mean how hard could it be to do one good thing a day, right? Well it turns out, some days it’s pretty hard. The days when you have 8 hours of work and a poorly child, the days when you just don’t make it out of the house. Of course there are always things you can do – an online donation is one of the easiest, but there are so many things I have missed out on due to being disorganized. There are plenty of toy drives I would have liked to give to, and I would have loved to pack a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child (which ran from Nov 17th-24th), send a care package to a soldier (note do not read the requests from soldiers unless you have some tissues handy!) and create some care packages for the homeless (a lovely idea from a friend). Unfortunately I have missed/won’t get time for these, but am just in time for Operation Santa in NYC – which can be done right up until Christmas Eve, so that’s on my radar for the next 2 days.
Today was one of those days with lots to do and so, I went down the online route again. I made a donation to an organization that I have been following for a while – Room to Grow based in New York City. They are dedicated to enriching the lives of babies born into poverty, especially in the first three years of their life. As well as online gifts, they also accept donations of new and nearly new baby and toddler items at the office, located at 54 West 21st Street, #401 (between 5th and 6th Avenue), Monday through Friday 10:00am – 4:00pm.
Whilst we have tried to keep presents to a minimum, our two-and-a-half-year-old will be getting spoiled rotten this Christmas (our closets are overflowing with gifts sent from friends and family in the UK). It breaks my heart to think about children the same age who don’t have the most basic of things such as a crib or stroller. Today’s donation makes me feel just a tiny little bit better. I’m also feeling good about how well this project has gone and how many different people and organizations I have been able to support. I will be continuing many of the traditions throughout next year and beyond, however the main lesson from today is to get organized for next year!