Thursday, December 17, 2009

And Hula Wept

I don't blog about my job because frankly, it can get you fired. Besides, work is work. I absolutely love my job, but I like to set it aside when I head home and piddle with things I enjoy, like blogging. But sometimes my personal life and professional life muddle together, and I have the opportunity to do something extracurricular that falls under the marketing umbrella of my job but fulfills me in a very personal way. THAT is where this post lands.

As a part of my job, I oversee the community lighting display our company holds during the Christmas season each year. It's a lot of work but a very cool thing to be a part of. We have hundreds of volunteers who work the display each night, collecting donations of food and money for area charities. It generates several tons of food and sustains some of those charities for the first quarter of the new year.

Last year, I wanted to try something new to boost food donations. We put out a challenge to area schools to collect canned goods, and the school that collected the most pounds of food per student won $1000 to spend any way they wanted at their school. I didn't know what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. Ten schools accepted the challenge and generated more than 15,000 pounds of food.

It's no secret I had trouble finding the Christmas spirit last year, given the troubles we were having with Sissy, and the distance those troubles put between us and Mama J. and Papa T.. I really just wanted Christmas to pass me by, but the day we picked up the canned goods, I found my Christmas spirit. It was such a wonderful surprise at each school to pull up to the doors and find a pile of food waiting for us. By the time we reached the third school I was in tears. That school had food piled in the hallways and spilling out of their homerooms. I was so overcome with emotion I had to dash into the bathroom to get myself together. It truly made my Christmas, and it was a reminder of just how good things can be.

This year ten schools joined the competition again. For two weeks they collected food, and I suspected we would would have a good response because some of the schools called for extra food bins. I was eager to pick up their stuff yesterday, and I was not disappointed when we started rounding up the loads. We took two moving trucks with us and pallet jacks and set out all over the county making one stop after another. And at each stop we were rewarded with food.
And more food.
Lots and lots of food.
Spilling out of the bins and into the floor.
At one school we picked up almost 6000 pounds. Another had 5400 pounds. At each school it was like opening up a big Christmas present. I made it to the next to last stop before I welled up with tears, which was pretty good I thought, given my propensity for wearing my emotions on my face. I managed to get myself together pretty quick, and nobody had to offer my a hankie.

These pictures don't show the faces of the students and staff because I'm walking that fine line between work and personal stuff, but believe me when I tell you I have lots of photos of the little smiling faces of kindergartners pleased with themselves, second graders waving shyly to me and the burly linemen helping me to load the goods and teachers bubbling with joy over their students' big hearts. Most moving of all were the children at one school who donated just a few hundred pounds. About 99% of those students at that school receive free lunches. Many of them will receive food pantry proceeds this month, making their donations more generous than the others because they have the least to give. If I think about it very long, I'll cry again.

It was a wonderful day. I've spent the last 24 hours, awarding trophies and money and basking in the glow of 23,000 pounds of Christmas spirit sitting in our warehouse at work, just waiting to be sorted and delivered to needy families. It's going to be hard to top that come December 25th. Sometimes, I think I have the best job in the world. And a darn good personal life.


The Church Lady said...

*sniff* - now that is the true meaning of "giving". What a great cause. You are a Christmas angel!

Mike Golch said...

this is what Christmas is all about.thank you and your company for making a difference.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

I've seen it time and time again....often those with the least are the ones who give generously. ♥

J.G. said...

That's the spirit, indeed! Kudos to you and your company for creating such a fun and useful contest that has giving at its heart.

oreneta said...

Merry Christmas indeed.

Thena said...

That is so awesome!!!!! It seems even with the way the economy is , I've heard of more giving this year than any other. My daughter's school had a canned food drive also and I took her with me and let her choose what she wanted to take in. They need to know the blessing it is to give not expecting anything in return.

Jan n Jer said...

What a heartwarming I sit here and wipe the tears rolling down my cheeks. The spirit of Christmas is alive and well in your community. God Bless

ChrisB said...

This is wonderful, the true spirit of giving and the families who receive the food will have a happier Christmas because of you and your company.

A New England Life said...

What an incredible thing for all those families to do. I can only imagine the feeling of satisfaction and thankfulness at as you go from school to school.

It's too bad the families who donate the food never see the impact they make. Hopefully in some small way they feel great about what they've done and have a happier holiday because of it.

Merry Christmas Hula Girl : )