Thursday, December 30, 2010

Elf Duties and the Big Snow

It's been a busy December for me. How about for the rest of you? I love this time of year, but sometimes it just goes by so quickly there hardly seems to be time to take it all in! I want to devote this post to sharing a little bit about this big charity event we do at the courthouse every December called the Giving Tree. Every November we get lists of underprivileged children from various sources in the county. Some come from school social workers, some from the Guardian ad Litem program, and some from the drug court program. We place each child's name, clothing size, and wishlist on a Christmas tree at the courthouse and local attorneys and courthouse staff take names from the tree and buy gifts for the children.

And then comes the madness. The presents pour in over the space of about 4 days, and we (myself and 3 other women) check, double check, and triple check that everything has come in. There are several shopping trips made as we use cash donations to buy for any kids whose names didn't get taken off the tree, or, if we're really lucky, to buy additional gifts for kids who were given one gift. Poor Alton made two trips to Wal-Mart with me to pick out bikes for kids, and he even delivered the bikes to Lumberton for me.

When the big day finally arrives, it's like a little bit of chaotic magic. One of the big courtrooms is all decked out in holiday goodness:

The presents are carefully arranged in order... for all 130 kids:

And once the children start to arrive, the mad scramble begins. I don't do the decoration; I don't get the food and cash donations; I help get the presents to the kids. As each family checks in, I start to build a list; one copy for me and one for Santa:

This list is double checked against my master list to locate the presents inside the gift room, and to remind me of which kids are getting bikes. And then I line the gifts up in the order that the kids will receive them:

After eating lunch in one of the other courtrooms, the families start to file into the courtroom:

Finally, the big guy arrives and calls the children up one by one to receive their gifts:

It's an incredible event to watch. The smiles on those little kids faces are just so wonderful. Of course, I always end the day physically and emotionally exhausted, and there are always one or two grinches trying to sour the day. But, like I said, those excited, happy little faces are worth having to deal with a few minutes of unpleasantness.
I also wanted to share a couple of photos from our White Christmas. I spent my holiday weekend in Greensboro with my parents. THe snow didn't start there until mid-afternoon Christmas day. Still, it was an exciting thing to see, since, to the best of my recollection, this is only the third time in my life that I have experienced snow on Christmas (day or eve, I'm counting both). Here's a shot looking up Mom and Dad's driveway:

And here's a pathway at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, which is about a mile from their house:

And then on Monday, when the sun finally came out:

Finally, here's Spike, getting in on the holiday action. I didn't put her out in the snow this time, but I did catch her tromping through Mom's Christmas Village, doing her 'Catzilla' impression:

Well, that's it for the photos. I'm looking forward to a pretty low-key New Year's weekend with my boyfriend. And, now that the holiday madness is over, I'm looking forward to getting my scrapmojo and stitchmojo back on. Stay safe over the weekend, y'all, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

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