Eden Gives Back -- Christmas 2011 -- Plano Santas!

Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
Thanks to Eden’s generosity in sponsoring the Eden Gives Back program, I was able to adopt a family in need this Christmas. I am very grateful for the opportunity to represent this caring community and to shine your beam of hope and compassion on yet another deserving family this year.

I was so impressed with the Plano Santas program sponsored by my local Assistance Center last year that I am excited to be able to participate in this amazing program again. With the help of a volunteer who sifted through case sheets with me, I selected an African American family of six: parents in their late forties with four children between the ages of six and twelve.

The father—a veteran who has served our country—recently lost his job after being hospitalized for a week with meningitis, which he contracted on the job as a commercial sanitation worker. Overall, he was very sick for a week and a half with the illness. When he returned to work, needing an income more than ever to pay for hospital bills and missed work days, he was informed that he was fired but that he “shouldn’t take it personally.” He was very hurt because he had taken the initiative to return to school to take classes so he could better fulfill his job obligations and because he had also traveled all over the State of Texas for this company. He had tried to go above and beyond in performing his duties, so he did not see the layoff coming and is still stunned. Nevertheless, he has an extremely upbeat personality and was a joy to talk to over the phone. He is remaining positive about finding new employment. However, he and his wife are very sad that this challenging time comes right before the Christmas holidays. They are struggling to keep their heads above water and a roof over their heads, so they won’t be able to give their children a Christmas this year, which breaks their hearts. I know we all want these children to have a beautiful Christmas! The holidays are magic—especially to kiddos between the ages of six and twelve. It feels wonderful to know that we can keep that magic alive for them.

The parents were very sweet and repeatedly thanked me for adopting their family, emphasizing that any help for their children would be greatly appreciated. I let them know that it was actually a network of caring people who had adopted them, not just me. This family thanks all of you for your help and for caring.

Anyway, enough with the introduction of the family’s current sad circumstances (which I just know they will triumphantly overcome). Let’s get on with the fun stuff: playing Santa to these kiddos! Don’t forget: Bringing a smile to these kids’ faces will do wonders for lifting the spirits of their parents as well, providing them with much-needed encouragement. Also, I will be taking a thirty-day supply of food donated by the Assistance Center to feed the entire family when I go deliver the gifts next weekend!

Below is an introduction to each child and to his or her wish lists. Of course, we won’t be able to get everything on their wish lists for them, but we’ll get as much as we can (prioritizing the clothing first). If any of you feel strongly about where/what to buy off of these lists, please let me know! I want to stretch every dollar as much as possible. I will be using the $100 that EF is giving me for being an Eden Gives Back ambassador to instead help these children. There is no way in the world that I need or want to be paid to do this! It is a privilege not only to represent this community but to help this family.

The youngest child is a six-year-old boy. He needs pajamas, a winter hat, and some clothes and shoes. He loves cars, such as MatchBox or uv cars (if anyone knows what uv cars are, please let me know!). He also likes train sets, trucks, and remote-controlled motorcycles, as well as yo-yos, books, and funny movies.

The second-youngest child is an eight-year-old girl. She needs some gloves (specifically, some pretty pink ones!) and a Christmas dress. She still loves fairytale stuff: she wants either a ballerina jewelry box or a princess tiara from The Princess and the Frog. She also likes dolls, play makeup, jump ropes, LeapFrog, books, and princess girl movies. She also likes either the Dream Fairy Room Light or the Sweet Dreams Starlight Projection Clock.

The second-oldest child is a nine-year-old boy. He needs a jacket and a warm hat (he specifically wants a SpongeBob jacket). He wants a football, some SillyBandz, a DS with Mario Kart game or a Mario Wii game, Electronic Brain Games, DragonBallZ toys, the new Puss in Boots movie, books, or Christmas movies.

The oldest child is a twelve-year-old boy. He needs nonspecific clothing items and shoes. As far as wants, he really, really wants an X-Box since his X-Box broke right around the time his father got sick and became unemployed. I know we cannot afford to buy him a new X-Box, but if anyone knows where I can find a used one or has any suggestions whatsoever, I would greatly appreciate it. I remember my brother’s and my nephews’ interests when they were twelve, so I know how important a game player is to a kid that age. He also would love some video games (though again, his X-Box is currently not working), an MP3 player, a digital camcorder, or a watch. Again, these are more expensive items, and we won’t have that much to work with, so he will be the most challenging to shop for. Please, please give me some suggestions here! I’d like him to get some of his genuine wants, like his younger siblings, and not just his basic needs. I’ve considered putting any amount designated for his wants toward a gift card at GameStop so that he could perhaps put it either toward getting some parts to fix his broken X-Box or toward purchasing a used one.

Thank you once again for this opportunity to help bring a smile to several faces! Please know that this couldn’t possibly be done without your help and that you are all kinds of awesome for making this happen. It just feels great to become a link in this chain of encouragement to help pull a deserving family out of one of the inevitable ruts in life, giving them hope that they are only in that rut temporarily.

While I always feel sad bypassing one sheet for another when looking over case sheets of families in need, wishing I could just take them all, I just keep reminding myself that we can’t become overwhelmed by the knowledge that we, as individuals, cannot help every single needy family in the world. We can, however, make absolutely all the difference in the world to one needy family at a time by showing them that someone cares. Spreading hope and good cheer has always been—and always will be—the true spirit of Christmas. Sometimes just knowing someone cares is enough motivation to help them get back on their feet again—and once they are back on their feet again, who knows how many needy people this close-knit and loving family will go on to touch, thus adding yet another link in the chain of encouragement?
12/11/2011
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Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
We still have until Tuesday, December 13 to e-mail Sam our gift card codes. Your donations will go toward supporting not just this family described above, but also to supporting five other worthy projects that Eden Gives Back is sponsoring this Christmas, each of which have the goal of helping needy people and families. Speaking of Sam, I think she phrased the following best, so I’ll quote her:
“What could be a better use for your Eden points or gift cards than to help make Christmas morning for some families that really need the help? Donations add up fast, and if all of you could just donate a little (or a lot), it would go a long way to help the families. You can send in any gift card you've earned, make one from points, or purchase a physical gift card and send in the code and amount from that.”

The donations can be sent by emailing Sam at Sam @ edenfantasys.com with a subject line of "Eden Gives Back Christmas donations." Make sure the body of your email includes the code of the gift card you're sending in, along with the amount.

Thank you all, and I hope you all have a wonderful winter season filled with warmth and love—no matter which holiday (or lack thereof) that you celebrate!
12/11/2011
Jul!a Jul!a
Thank you so much for doing this, Selective!
12/12/2011
Kindred Kindred
Thank you SS for doing this wonderful work!

Note to self: Send Sam GC codes tonight!
12/12/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
Quote:
Originally posted by Kindred
Thank you SS for doing this wonderful work!

Note to self: Send Sam GC codes tonight!
Thank you, Kindred!
12/12/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
Today is the last day to make donations! Remember: All donations will be split amongst the six Christmas charities that EF is sponsoring this season (which I linked above in the first comment where it says "supporting five other worthy projects"). Any little bit adds up to make a big difference. Let's bring a smile to the faces of some needy people/families!
12/13/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
I made the delivery of all the presents and the 30-day supply of food today and met the family! They were such warm and wonderful people and were so grateful for your help.

I'll be working on an article for EdenCafe telling you all about it, but in the meantime, I thought I'd share some photos of this adventure! Stay tuned--I'm trying to upload pics to TinyPic.com and will be posting them bit by bit . . .
12/18/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
The 6-year-old boy's stash:



Here are a couple of close-up shots:



12/18/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
The 8-year-old girl's stash:



Here are some close-up shots:







Some play makeup for her that was not in the original layout:

12/18/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
The 9-year-old boy's stash:



Sadly, I was extremely rushed for time right before I wrapped his gifts and barely had time to lay them out to photograph, let alone get close-up shots. But I think you can see everything pretty well. Just ask if you have any questions about any particular item you can't see well enough!
12/18/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
The 12-year-old boy's stash:



Most of his shirts are dark, so it's hard to differentiate between them, but here's a close-up (or at least a closer-up) photo of the watch, video game, and MP3 player:



Here's another shirt that didn't make it into the above layout:



I had planned on getting the 12-year-old a refurbished original X-Box (the oldest version), but it would've taken most of the budget for his gifts, and his mom had asked me not to get the gaming system and to instead focus more on the clothing.

The envelopes that you see in the photos for all three of the boys are $50 gift certificates to J.C. Penney. I also gave the mother gift receipts for all the clothing so that they could take the items back to exchange if they don't like them or if they don't fit.
12/18/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
I had bought and wrapped a gingerbread kit house for the family (one that has all the pieces pre-baked but has a frosting mix and various candies to decorate with). I completely forgot to photograph it before I wrapped it. The next time I'm at the store, I'll photograph another one that is just like it and post the photo.

Here are the wrapped gifts (37 in all!):



Here they all are, bundled up into 6 big shopping bags and ready to be taken to the car to be loaded up:

12/18/2011
Starkiller87 Starkiller87
Loving the Perry the platypus shirts!! And some awesome mario stuff!!! You did such a lovely job picking things out. Thanks for doing this.
12/18/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
After I got all the packages packed roof-high into my front and back passenger seats (leaving room in the trunk and the driver-side back seat for the one-month-supply of food I'd be picking up), I then drove to Santa's workshop! (Yes, Santa has a workshop in Texas--and it is actually an old, nondescript out-of-business grocery store! Shhh, don't tell anybody!)



These are Santa's elves who work inside Santa's workshop (note that this is how they look when working undercover):



I then drove around the back, and some more wonderful elves/volunteers loaded my car up with six big boxes of food, tossing in a turkey, bag of flour, bag of sugar, and a loaf of bread, to boot!

12/18/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
Here are the boxes packed into my trunk:



And here are the boxes in my back seat:



I took a peek into two of the boxes of food:



12/18/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
Speaking of boxes of food, remember all those packages?

Here's my back seat on the other side of the car:



And here's the passenger front seat:



My car was filled to overflowing, so there's no way I could've taken a companion along for the ride! I had plenty of help carrying everything in once I arrived at the family's home, so it all worked out well.
12/18/2011
Adriana Ravenlust Adriana Ravenlust
Holy crap. That's a lot of stuff. Awesome!
12/19/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
It was an absolute joy to meet this family. They are good-hearted, hard-working people who are just going through a rough patch in life. They said that they have always been able to help others and that this is the first time in their lives they have found themselves on the receiving end of help. The mom explained that her sister had urged her to quit holding on to her pride and to instead think of her children and their needs. With Christmas around the corner and no way to pay bills, that is how they found themselves applying for short-term emergency assistance. They barely made the cutoff: the Assistance Center only approves 500 qualified families each year for the Plano Santas program, and their assigned case number was 492! The father said he thought it was a joke when I called because he did not expect his family to get adopted. (The 500 families are only guaranteed a one-month-supply of food from the Assistance Center. Not all of these families are adopted by a community member or group, and sadly, these unadopted families receive no gifts of clothing or toys for their children.)

As I was leaving, the mom vowed with tears in her eyes that she and her family would be the ones adopting a family for Christmas next year. I told her that I had no doubt that they would. I hope her husband finds a job that is even better than the one that he lost--and one which will be more fulfilling.

Again, I had told the parents that it was actually a network of friends who had helped their family--not just me. They are grateful to all of you. Here is a card from the family to all of you, signed by the mom (from their family). Each of the children also signed.



I photoshopped the image to black out the last name of the family and the names of the children, but here is what the mom had to say to all of you:





[Edit: Since it is difficult to read, here is what the mom wrote inside the card: "To _____ & all her friends. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. May God bless each and every one of you in constant abundance. Merry Christmas & Happy & Blessed New Year. The _____ Family"]
12/19/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
Quote:
Originally posted by Starkiller87
Loving the Perry the platypus shirts!! And some awesome mario stuff!!! You did such a lovely job picking things out. Thanks for doing this.
LOL--you kind of got buried amongst my posts of photos!

I'm glad you like the shirts, and thank YOU for donating to this worthy cause.
12/19/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
Quote:
Originally posted by Adriana Ravenlust
Holy crap. That's a lot of stuff. Awesome!
Thank you, Adriana! Your donation helped make this happen.
12/19/2011
aliceinthehole aliceinthehole
Quote:
Originally posted by Selective Sensualist
I had bought and wrapped a gingerbread kit house for the family (one that has all the pieces pre-baked but has a frosting mix and various candies to decorate with). I completely forgot to photograph it before I wrapped it. The next time I'm at ... More
wow, you did so much wrapping! how fun!!!
12/19/2011
aliceinthehole aliceinthehole
Quote:
Originally posted by Selective Sensualist
It was an absolute joy to meet this family. They are good-hearted, hard-working people who are just going through a rough patch in life. They said that they have always been able to help others and that this is the first time in their lives they ... More
wow, that is incredible!!! so lucky you got to see them in person, how incredibly fulfilling this all was.

good for you!!! spreading christmas cheer.




you're a little santa sensualist now!

12/19/2011
Kindred Kindred
You did a great job with the shopping! You certainly got a huge haul for each of the kids. I feel so happy that we could help this family. Thanks for the pictures and the touching story.
12/19/2011
P'Gell P'Gell
SS, darling, you are truly an angel!

Thank you so much for putting all the work into making this a wonderful Christmas for this family.

I love the dresses for the little girl. I always had lovely dresses for my girls when they were little, and it is so nice be be able to dress your little one nicely anytime, but especially for the Holidays. And the Barbie is gorgeous!

The boys stuff is adorable, too. I'm SOOOOOOOO glad this family will be having a beautiful Christmas. This family has obviously been through hell, helped out others when they could and certainly deserving of a great Holiday. I hope the Dad is able to find a job soon. But, their Christmas will be lovely.

Blessings, SS.

Damn, now I'm in tears.... happy ones.
12/19/2011
Jul!a Jul!a
I want to cry looking at what you were able to do, and I can't wait to see your blog post about it!
12/19/2011
Hot 'N Sexy TexasMama Hot 'N Sexy TexasMama
I just want to say that I think its awesome - not only what you did but when I think of all that SHOPPING and then the GIFT WRAPPING. I'm exhausted just thinking about that - let alone all the other work you did.

Thanks for sharing this experience with us and making us feel like we're part of it.
12/19/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
@Alice, Kindred, Sam, and TexasMama: Thank YOU!

Speaking of tears, can I just share that I cried in my car as I drove away from the family's home and was still in tears when I stopped by Starbucks to get myself a Pumpkin Spice Latte? The barista who came to the window probably thought I was crazy--blinking back tears while trying to smile and be cheerful! I ran a couple of errands and then went to another drive-thru to get a late lunch and was STILL doing the blinking-back-tears-wh ile-trying-to-smile thing with the cashier at that window! It was so bad that I finally just explained to him that I had just received happy news so he wouldn't think I was insane or emotionally unstable!

This family we adopted was just so full of light and love and joy and hope and everything good in humanity that the blessing was completely turned around and bestowed on ME. I wish you could have been there to see this beautiful family.
12/19/2011
Misfit Momma Misfit Momma
Wow, So many presents! I can just imagine the excitement in those little eyes! The charity I'm working with does not provide the food so most of my spending was used for food items, but I'll admit I'm glad I didn't have to wrap 37 gifts!
12/20/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
Quote:
Originally posted by Selective Sensualist
It was an absolute joy to meet this family. They are good-hearted, hard-working people who are just going through a rough patch in life. They said that they have always been able to help others and that this is the first time in their lives they ... More
Hmmm . . . On our laptop, I can see the picture of the card well enough to read it, though I can't see it so clearly on our desktop monitor. (Go figure.) To clarify what I meant (since I didn't mean to imply that the mom had illegible handwriting--as she actually has very nice handwriting), I only meant it was difficult to read after having trouble seeing a clear enough and large enough image on my desktop to make out the words.
12/20/2011
Selective Sensualist Selective Sensualist
Quote:
Originally posted by Misfit Momma
Wow, So many presents! I can just imagine the excitement in those little eyes! The charity I'm working with does not provide the food so most of my spending was used for food items, but I'll admit I'm glad I didn't have to wrap 37 gifts!
LOL--it took me longer than I care to admit to wrap that many gifts! I told my husband that if I had a job as a gift-wrapper, I'd probably be fired for my low production of wrapped gifts per hour.

Yeah, I can only imagine that buying food WOULD take most of your budget. Food is not cheap, as we can all attest when going grocery shopping for our own families!
12/20/2011
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