It's no secret I've had trouble finding the holiday spirit this year. If you've read any of my other December posts it's pretty obvious I've been a little short on ho, ho, ho. Frankly, I've been feeling overwhelmed at how fast Christmas is approaching. Oh, I didn't give up. I kept plugging away because I knew that spirit was down in me somewhere. It was just a little lost, a little misplaced. I was searching for it to no avail, apparently, in all the wrong places.
I oversee a community holiday lighting display and food drive. Knowing that the economy might hamper donations this year, I asked area schools to hold canned food drives at their schools and offered a prize for the winning school in order to supplement our usual collection. Each school was given a large industrial grade bin to hold their goods. When full of canned food a bin can hold between 1000 and 1400 pounds. The contest ended this week, and we picked up food at three of the ten schools yesterday. We were thrilled with the amount we collected. Armed with a moving van, a pallet jack and four strong men I headed out early this morning for pick ups at the rest of the schools. I'll admit I was pretty tired before I started the day and had no idea what to expect. I knew it would be a long day, but I was eager to see what was waiting for us. The first four stops went pretty fast, and the stack of food grew bigger at each stop. At each school we found a full bin and lots of smiling children. By 10am I had lost my weariness and was feeling really upbeat.
I was anxious to get to the fifth stop because I had an inkling they had done very well. They had already filled their bin once last week and seemed really inspired. I had no idea just how inspired. When we arrived they had two more full bins and sacks and sacks of food stacked around the bins. Outside each classroom was more food. We had to take two grocery carts around the building to pick up the food at the classrooms. We were at the school for about an hour, packing, loading and trying to figure out how to get it all out of the building. We also had to take the bar out of the double doors in order to pull out the pallets of food. As I stood there in amazement I suddenly felt overwhelmed again. This time I was overwhelmed in a good way. My heart just melted at the smiles on the faces of dozens of children who didn't even know what prize they were competing for. They were simply excited about helping other people. Y'all know what a crybaby I can be. It was all I could do not to fall apart. I finally stepped outside "to take a phone call" and get myself together. Before we left the building I slipped in the restroom "for a pit stop" aka blowing my nose and wiping my eyes. I stood against the sink, looked into the mirror and smiled. It took me until December 19th, only six days before Christmas before I found that spirit. But I did. Finally. With the help of 391 elementary school children who have no idea how much they gave today. Oh, they know how much food they gave to the hungry. They just don't know how much they gave to this starving soul. Bring on Christmas my friends, I'm finally ready.
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