Sorry – I forgot to mention on Tuesday that this year I may not be posting a blog every day, as I did during 2012; and the observant among you may have spotted that there wasn’t a post yesterday. As I narrow the focus of the site, it may not be possible to generate interesting content on a daily basis, so rather than boring you, dear reader, I will aim to reduce the frequency of posts accordingly.
But with that out of the way, I just felt that (despite its American bias) I really had to bring to your attention a lovely, heart-warming item I picked up on, today.
Santa’s Elves is a charity based in the Denver area, which was created two years ago by a group of mothers who wanted to teach their kids the true value of giving at Christmas. Deborah Sherman (previously a 9NEWS reporter) and her friends wanted their children to understand that giving is so much more rewarding than receiving, and that there are many who are in need of the gifts that the more affluent families are able to provide. So, the idea developed whereby donor ‘Elves’ dress up as Santa’s little helpers and hand-deliver the presents to their peers in poorer neighbourhoods, thus adding a unique personal touch. They are also encouraged to write letters to the recipients. This year the charity delivered 1,000 gifts in total, with donated presents coming not just from around the USA, but even as far away as the Philippines. Some generous families donated more than one gift, and a number of commercial sponsors also chipped-in – DRG Construction, USBorne Books, Rosa Linda’s Mexican Café and Be Good To People. In addition to the gifts, every family in the adopted neighbourhood (Denver’s poorest – Sun Valley) automatically received community support.
Santa’s Elves is now ready to start receiving gifts for next Christmas, if you would like to become a part of this very worthwhile campaign.
To all my readers: I wish you a very Merry Christmas (or whatever else you are celebrating today) – and may you have a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year in 2013.
Continuing yesterday’s role-reversal theme of young people inspiring adults…
The charity e:merge, which works with the young people of Bradford, and normally seeks to inspire them “to improve their lives”, recently put on its web-page a selection of 29 young people who the youth workers say have inspired them. What better message could we have for Christmas Day 2012 than this inspiring celebration of a representative selection of some of the wonderful young people who can be found around the UK today. Check it out HERE.
Thanks to e:merge, too, for today’s photo, which nicely emphasises the down-to-earth practicality of true charity (love) at this otherwise very romantic time of year.
The older of you will probably remember a time when it was a treat to receive an orange in our Christmas stocking – although our many of younger readers will probably find this almost unbelievable, used as they are to receiving all kinds of expensive electronic and other luxury gift items these days! But for many families, even in the supposedly affluent West, the holiday period is still a time when they struggle to put a decent meal on the table. And the USA arm of one organisation, with which I am proud to be associated here in the UK – the Salvation Army – has long waiting lists of households hoping for Christmas dinner baskets… as well as toys for their kids.
So I was – at the same time – amused and delighted to see that an orange-growing ranch in the Sierra Nevada Foothills has just donated over one-and-a-half tons of Satsuma Mandarin oranges for inclusion in the local Salvation Army’s charity baskets this year. Tri-L Mandarin Ranch, Oroville – planted 17 years ago by Lou and Lola Lodigiani – picks a different church each year, to distribute its generous donation, and this year it was the Sally Anne’s turn. With the co-operation of customers (who were encouraged to donate, by a promised match-funding offer from the company) the ranch was able to offer 3,200 pounds of the fruit to Majors Wayne and Patricia Wetter this week, when they arrived with volunteer Carole Walte to collect the bumper crop. The five storage bins of fruit were subsequently transported to their premises by another local volunteer, Al Stiefel.
So even if the oranges don’t actually end up in Christmas stockings, many grateful basket recipients over the holiday season will be able to enjoy fresh fruit, along with the many other goodies that the charity has prepared for them. Major Wetter says that any oranges left over after the baskets have been distributed will be made available to the needy through their food pantry, which also helps those who are running out of food supplies.
Today we focus on a philanthropic teen in the USA.
For the last five years 13-year-old Kyle Toner of Williamsport, Lycoming County has been collecting blankets for needy people in his area at Christmastime. This year he has collected almost 300, and he recently delivered a car-full to the charity Shepherd of the Streets, for distribution. To bring in donations Kyle sends out flyers to family and friends, reminding them of how cold it can be out on the streets, and encouraging them to help. Over the years this inspiring youngster’s efforts have resulted in more than 1,000 blankets reaching those who really need them, such as homeless people. This year – as a special touch – Kyle is including a children’s book with each one destined for a needy kid. His blanket drive will be continuing into January. There’s a brief video about it HERE.
Photo credit: Matt Hamilton, The Daily Citizen
For two years running the Salvation Army in the USA has received very unusual, anonymous Christmas donations… valuable diamond rings.
At this time of year the Salvation Army’s famous Red Kettles appear around the country, inviting generous citizens to contribute finances to its Christmas appeal, while volunteers play or sing carols, or ring bells. The Christmas Kettle street campaign was started in 1891, by Captain Joseph McFee, who wanted to provide free Christmas dinners to the poor of San Francisco. Normally, people drop cash or cheques into the trademark red pots.
But last year, in Dalton, Georgia (USA), one anonymous well-wisher left a surprise donation – a diamond ring. Described as “a round, brilliant-cut diamond just a shade over one carat, set in a 14-carat white gold, four-prong Tiffany mounting” it was put on display in July this year at Maryville Jewelers, Dalton, where there were a number of bidders. It eventually sold at auction for $3,100. The Salvation Army said that this would be a great help in its campaign to help local needy residents: last year the organisation’s food-bank there helped 4,025 families.
Now, history has repeated itself. During this last week another white gold diamond ring was deposited anonymously in one of the Salvation Army’s two dozen kettles in the Tri-Cities area (Washington), along with a short message wishing “Merry Christmas!” and saying that the charity would no doubt be able to make good use of the item of jewellery. As yet, it hasn’t been valued, but Major Julio Vasquez says that the generous donation will be used to help local families.