The company I work for hosts a community lighting display each Christmas season, and we collect canned goods and food each night of the display at the local park. We usually generate about 30,000 pounds of food and between $25,000 and $30,000 dollars for local food pantries each Christmas. A couple of years ago we added a School Challenge (more on that next week) that significantly boosted our donations, and this year I wanted to add a component that would involve local businesses. Every idea I came up with prior to Thanksgiving just wasn’t feasible because of logistical issues. In the end, we parked a semi at the local hospitals, which are two of this community’s largest employers, and for two days urged hospital employees and the public to “Stuff the Truck” with canned goods and cash. It was kind of a last minute idea since Hula’s brain was a little slow to churn this season, but it all came together nicely, thanks to the support of a lot of good folks, and in the end our truck was nearly full with close to 10,000 pounds of goodies for the food pantries.
Our temperatures have been below freezing the past few days, so standing in the cold at 5:45am for live radio and TV interviews and throughout the day and into the evening was not so comfortable. Now, I grew up in the country where there’s no shame in a good pair of coveralls, so I updated my coverall situation before the drive started Wednesday when I realized how cold it was going to be. The only problem was that the adult sizes were so over sized I had to buy an extra large in the boys department. They fit fine, except I’m apparently four inches taller than the average prepubescent boy, so I wore high water britches for two days. They kept me from freezing though. I figure I’ll sew some kind of funky material onto the bottom of them now and make a real fashion statement when I’m stomping around in the woods taking nature photos this winter.
Every part of me exposed to the elements is chapped, and I was so busy this week I missed a few meals, unless of course you count Tropical Skittles from the hospital vending machine as a meal, but that ended up being a very good thing. Very good because it prompted me to think yesterday in the middle of a chilly moment before sunrise, about what it’s really like to be cold and homeless without a coat, and hungry with little or no food. Hula is a very lucky gal. I have a warm home, plenty to eat and a great job. I also have about four coats in my closet. Standing in the cold for a couple of long days is nothing compared to what some folks deal with every day. It really wasn’t much of a sacrifice for me to stand outside hawking canned goods for two days. In fact, I was warm with Christmas spirit when I watched my coworkers scurry around with forklifts last night unloading pallet after pallet of food in the company warehouse. The reason behind the season is alive and well in my heart this week folks, and now I’m off for a little rest before I start gathering canned goods from kids next week.
Right after I fling a little chili at the Project Graduation fundraiser at Teen Angel’s school tonight. Ha! The fun never ends around here.