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Labels: Local NewsStumble It! JBlog Me
Labels: Local NewsStumble It! JBlog Me
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!Stumble It! JBlog Me
Labels: Local NewsStumble It! JBlog Me
Here’s the situation: your local public airport (or library, or courthouse, or city hall, or. . . you get the idea) has a display of lighted “Christmas trees.” Your local airport (or whatever) decides to call them “Holiday trees” and figure that will be enough to keep all cultures happy. It works for several years and then a local rabbi asks that the local airport (or whatever) put a menorah beside the trees. The rabbi doesn’t ask for the trees to be taken down. He only wants to menorah added to the display to make it more culturally diverse. He also asks for the menorah to be included in the display back in October.
Your local airport (or whatever) doesn’t respond to the rabbi. Maybe they think if they ignore him the rabbi will go away. Maybe they don’t think at all. Maybe they decide to “research” the issue. In any case, having received no response to his request, the rabbi threatens a lawsuit.
Remember, the request was simply to add a menorah to the display. Add something, not take something away.
Your local airport, to ensure cultural sensitivity, responds by taking down the display completely. And by making sure that the implication is that the rabbi forced them to take the trees down. Hoping to hide their inability to make a decision or admit to their actions, your local airport tries to have the trees taken down after midnight.
If you live in Seattle, this really is your local airport. Instead of making a decision anytime between October (when the request was first made) until December 9, 2006 about including a menorah in the display, the port authority decided to take their ball and go home.
One commissioner, John Creighton, showed his understanding of the issue by making this statement
I felt we’d also have to put up Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish symbols. Where does it stop?
It appears that Creighton doesn’t realize that the menorah is a Jewish symbol. It also appears that Creighton doesn’t realize that Hanukkah is celebrated at the same time as Christmas.
Just what does the rabbi that requested the addition of the menorah feel about SeaTac Airport’s decision to remove the display?
Elazar Bogomilsky, the rabbi who requested the menorah be added to the display back in October said,
Everyone should have their spirit of the holiday. For many people the trees are the spirit of the holidays, and adding a menorah adds light to the season.
Bogomilsky did not want the trees taken down. At least one commissioner, Bob Edwards, felt that the Port’s decision was an “overreaction.”
And just what other religions celebrate holy days in December? Not too many. While several holidays are listed in December, they only belong to a handful of religions.
So is this a real example of Bill O’Really’s “War on Christmas?” Hardly. This is the small minded reaction of a single group of people that had hoped that by ignoring the rabbi he would go away. The port authority had plenty of time to address the issue prior to deciding to just take it all down. They hired someone to do research into the issue for them. Any one of them could have done a search on the internet and found plenty of information very quickly to help them determine a course of action. Back in October the port authority could have done a search to see which holidays were celebrated in December and decided to incorporate symbols from the three main religions involved.
They could have done all of that. By doing that the port authority would have shown that they were aware that Christmas is not the only holiday of the season. They would have shown that they recognized that they lived in a culturally diverse area.
Instead, the Seattle airport authority decided to pack it in and take the display down. If anyone in this case is waging a “war on Christmas” it is the SeaTac Airport authority by not demonstrating the giving nature of the season. Instead of giving space to the rabbi’s request, the authority took the display away from everyone.
The authority would like you to believe they took the display down to be “thoughtful and respectful” and to give them time to review their policies in January. I personally feel that it was little more than “if I can’t have it my way no one can have it” reaction of the majority of the commissioners involved in the decision making. Childish.
Equally childish is the response you can see on any of the Sound-Off pages from Seattle’s media. Most posters show that they don’t know anything about the issue beyond the fact that the trees were removed. Most accuse the rabbi of claiming to be “offended” by the Christmas/Holiday tree display. As his quote above shows, Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky was not offended by the display. He simply asked for some representation of his religion.
Most posters also assume that the rabbi’s first action was to hire a lawyer and threaten a lawsuit. It wasn’t. His first action was to send a request to be included to the airport authority back in October. The lawyer was a last resort.
One last assumption of the posters is that Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky is a liberal, “radical” rabbi. Bogomilsky belongs to the “Chabad-Lubavich” movement. In other words he’s part of a messianic, Hassidic branch of Judaism known for it’s conservative, fundamentalist practices.
This event doesn’t prove that there is a “War on Christmas.” It only proves that there are far too many small-minded and childish people in this country who would rather “take their ball and go home” than show the true meaning of the season. You know, that idea of “Peace on earth and good will toward man.” Those lessons that Jesus Christ tried to teach.Stumble It! JBlog Me
Until today. Today my mind has been forever changed. Changed for the first time in years, and by the evil purveyor of coffee on every corner in the world, Starbucks. Starbucks, which happens to be next door to my local Trader Joes. My beloved Trader Joes that has run out of cups and had no free coffee this morning. Can you believe it? Neither could I. Harumph.
Because TJs let me down, I had to go to Starbucks for coffee. My daughter was with me, and she wanted the girliest girly drink of all, the Peppermint Mocha Latte. Bah! But then I saw something on the menu that caught my eye and I wanted to taste it. I wanted in bad. I was reeled in by those damn Seattleites with their adorable chick coffees. Yes, I ordered a Venti Gingerbread Latte. And it was good.
Not just good good. GOOOOOOD good. Like you wanted to get down on your knees and pray to the Gods of Mt. Hood for creating Seattle who begat Starbucks who begat the latte who begat the gingerbread latte, nectar of the Gods. That’s how good it is. OK, it’s ridiculously overpriced. It probably has 1000 calories in a Venti. I’m afraid to go to the Starbucks site and check. And if you do, don’t tell me. I honestly don’t want to know. I’ll cry when I find out how fattening it is. OK I won’t. It was 530 calories. I will never eat again. I’ll just be drinking these Lattes. But I’ll be very very happy.
And in defense of Trader Joes, they still had plenty of those Candycane Joe-Joes. Have you tried those? They are, without a doubt, the best cookie ever made. They only have them this time of year. They're new this year and they are a blessing and a curse. A blessing because they taste so darn good that you just want to eat the entire box. A curse because they are cookies that taste so good you want to eat the entire box. The flyer said that of all the holiday items TJ's offered this year, these were the holiday tasting panel's favorite item. I have to concur. These are heaven in a little box, and for only $2.49, you can't go wrong.
Please do not ask me how many boxes we bought today. Please. Oh my God, I'm mortified.