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Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Setting up Christmas in the City

In Boston, we have a massive Christmas fete for the children that reside in shelters and in programs. It's called Christmas in the City and it is entirely run by volunteers. Hundreds and hundreds of volunteers ranging from high school kids to adults.


Today was the setup for the big party and my family volunteered to sort and wrap presents for the largest shelter in Boston. We were volunteering on Emily's team. We had 220 kids on our list. Think about that for a second. Two hundred and twenty children in just one shelter out of many. This event feeds, entertains, and hands out presents to over 2500 children in the Boston area. If they could find more volunteers, more donations, and more businesses willing to pitch in, they would double the size of the event and still not take care of every poor child in shelters in Boston. To me, that's one of the most depressing things I've heard all year.

Our intrepid team leader Emily.

But what made me encouraged and feeling the goodness of people were the donations. Each child is allowed to request 3 presents from "Santa". Then many people and businesses get lists of the child's name, age, gender and gift requests, and fill them for the children. Each child gets at least one gift they have requested plus plenty of other things that will surprise them.

Each present needed to be wrapped and labeled with the information about the child. Then they were placed on a grid taped to the floor to separate the presents by gender and age group. Any presents that were unidentified had to be chosen by age and gender for children that may not have appeared on the initial list.

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Once we've finished with all the presents that have been donated, we have to go 'shopping' for gifts that were not donated by individuals for kids who had requested them. Shopping means going to the huge stacks of presents donated by businesses and purchased by cash donations to the organization.

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Wrapping, wrapping, and more wrapping.

Those gifts are also separated by gender and by items. There's that pink pile that contains Bratz dolls, baby dolls, Barbie Dolls, My Little Pony and anything else that comes in a pink package. There was the truck pile that had remote control cars and big Tonka trucks. There was a smaller truck pile with plastic trucks for younger kids. There was a huge pile of Leap Pad products for all ages. It seems that the Leap Pad is the most requested toy this year. Take that, Elmo! There was an infant toy pile filled with shape sorters and puzzles and rattles. Oh those were so adorable.

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There was a mountain of stuffed animals. Literally a mountain. There was every kind of animal ever made, and some were so adorable I wanted to take them home with me. So cuddly and soft!

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There were 5 huge rolling carts filled with CD and MP3 players. My kids were dying to dive right in there. There were piles of sweatshirts, pajamas, gloves, hats and mittens. Not only were there lots of clothing, but they had it organized so that an assembly line of teens went down the line where their shopping bags were filled by other volunteers with a stuffed animal, clothing, baseball hat, winter hats and gloves, It was amazingly organized. I was so impressed.

Tomorrow there will be several events. First the families come and sit down at tables for lunch. Then they let the kids loose for carnival rides and the most amazing display of bouncy and climbing things you've ever seen. They have dozens of them. They will be able to ride on a merry-go-round, a mechanical bull, and other rides.

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Additionally, they have face painters, volunteer beauticians from Newbury Street (our equivalent of Rodeo Drive) that give out free haircuts, and lots of local celebrities from the The New England Revolution and other professional sports teams. There are volunteers from the Museum of Fine arts that bring art projects for the kids to do.

Once the kids are exhausted, they are called back to the table area, where they are greeted by Santa riding around in a cherry picker. While Santa is entertaining them, volunteers bring out all the presents and distribute them to the children.

Santa has a throne to sit on so the kids can have their picture taken. There are many Christmas trees around him that are ready to be decorated by the children. The children get to have an entire Christmas in one swoop, and I'm so happy that my family and I took part in this event. We can't wait till next year to be even more involved!

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1 Comments:

Blogger emily said...

AWESOME pics, Margalit! Can't wait til next year... :)

19/12/06 11:09 AM  

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