Group such as school classes, girl scouts, 4-H, cub scouts, etc..........
These groups vary WIDELY, but all have one thing in common. A lot of those in the ranks have hearts, and a lot try to give to others for Christmas.
There is a broken system in America. This broken system affects hundreds of families. People with brand new Jaguars, even those with houses over a million dollars, receive help from the government and 501c3's. Yet, many with 10 year old cars, working and slaving every day to take care of their families, receive NOTHING.
I started a program called Trucking Santas last year as a way for truckers with hearts to give from their heart. Where I thought I had created a one time deal, the volunteers from one year always want another.
This year has been hard. Donations have been down across the board, with every non-profit and for every program that isn't a non-profit. As the economy looks bleaker, donations always seem to flatline. This year, we took on a total of 22 families and 65 cerebral palsy patients. This totalled out to 148 people total. When you consider that the median number of items each person received (based on many were children) was 12, we had a huge haul ahead of us. We had over 1776 gifts to get, including necessities like bedding, dishes, towels, etc. Not every item has been purchased as of now. We only have 65 items left. With how hard this year has been, I will be happy to close out at 65 missing items and call it a success.
A few things have happened this year, and a few things will change next year, so I will go over the changes with everyone so they will know what to be looking for.
We were attacked by a non-profit group due to the fact we weren't 501c3. I took it up for vote in between all the Santas, and they only want one thing. "Keep it simple stupid." To go non-profit would be to rearrange the entire structure of how we do it. The other Santas do not wish to see this done. So, since they're the ones spending their money for these families, they are the ones that make the financial decision.
We had a non-profit group reach out, wanting to sponsor us, but then turned tail and ran away. (I love screen shots.) We do not want sponsorship from any non-profit group. We will not pursue sponsorship from any non-profit group. We have a partnership for next year, but that is all. We work with non-profits to get families that they can't cover for Christmas, and I want to keep the working relationship just as it is.
So, as far as change goes, there will be no change as to how the program operates. It will still be me losing my mind in March to find the right families via churches, charities, and shelters. I will still make direct contact with the families, find out their exact needs, and the children's wants. I will still make separate wish lists, for the most part, where you can ship directly to the family, and know where your money is going. You can still hand deliver the items, as Thomas Heatherman, Tiffany Parker, Trucker Rich, and Vern Lampman will be doing this year. The pictures will still come in, and will still be posted on facebook, Twitter, and the Trucking Santas website. That part stays the same.
What will change is one way of doing things. There are basics every year that the families need, and the sizes, etc, are easy to know. We have several businesses willing to act as "clearing houses." They would hold the items until December, then wrap and send. Three groups have been nominated by the Santas to continue into next year. These are the cerebral palsy facility in Frederick, MD; the Mansinis in Lanexa, VA; and the Marreros in Coaldale, PA. I will be putting all three of these in a blanket list for the next year so everyone can buy throughout the year. I will also have a "hodgepodge" list to be ahead of the game for the rest of the families.
Stockings are up in there. We lost an entire stocking crew, and left it down to three others. This stressed out the other three, almost hospitalizing one. I would love to say stockings are for sure, but I can't at this current time. Cards and cookies are one of the things a lot of people love to do, and we will continue with this aspect also. (As we remind everyone, no nuts please, for I don't know all food allergies.)
I would like to say one thing to everyone who participated in this year's event. Thank you. Thank you for making these families have a Christmas they never thought would be possible. It's amazing to see a Ravens sheet set cheat death for a cerebral palsy patient, to hear a mother cry over a bedding set she's wanted for her son for years, to hear kids excited over a Christmas card.
Ever since my dad passed, I didn't celebrate the holiday season. Now, I look forward to it yearly!