Monday, January 3, 2011

Starting Again, Catching Up: 2011 is Here

One of the gifts with tag from the Giving Tree.
Was Thanksgiving really almost 40 days ago? Back then, when Christmas was being annoyingly ballyhooed it seemed so far away. But now Christmas has come and gone and 2011 with all it's promise, not to mention snow, is here.

I took a blogging break for the month of December. Truthfully, my computer was giving me a problem and I am now blogging from my brand new iPad courtesy of Santa (read, my husband!). I have lots of new ideas, recipes and decorating projects but before I get to those things in the days ahead, I wanted to describe an activity that took place in December that I feel is worth mentioning.

In my September 24th blog, I took stock of goals set for myself upon leaving my full-time career as an newspaper art director. I wanted to start a food basket and establish a Christmas Giving Tree in my parish. I had already approached the pastor of my church and the organizational part of it was waiting to be done (by me!!). The ideas were simple. A basket would be placed in the rear of the church and parishioners would be encouraged to bring one non-perishable food item each week. Once an announcement appeared in the church bulletin the program would begin. Not everyone participates but the response is good enough to gather about 15 bags of groceries each week. I pick up and deliver the donated food each Monday morning to a church in a financially needy section of Staten Island where I live.

The other idea, the Giving Tree, was advertised for the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. A Christmas tree was placed in the rear of the church near the exit. The tree was filled with name tags (not using last names of course) and ages of children in need and parishioners were invited to take a tag and purchase an age appropriate toy, wrap it and return to the parish with the name tag attached. The gifts were picked up over a three week period and when all were returned we had 175 beautifully wrapped and very generous gifts for children in two centers on Staten Island. Friends and family helped deliver 50 large clear bags filled with gifts to a very grateful pastor and Catholic Charities program director.

I can only imagine the delight with which these gifts were received. It was a great program that was extremely popular in our church and certain to be repeated next year. The fact is when you see people with very little you appreciate what you have even more.

I encourage you to look for a project if you have the time. Whatever your religious or non-religious affiliations, there are so many ways to make a difference. In each of the three places which were and are the beneficiaries of these small projects, I saw families taking clothing and food out of bins and boxes with their children, teens, infants, toddlers, in tow. It breaks your heart.

To whom much is given, much is expected.

Happy New Year to all and it's great to be back!

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