My end of year volunteering was amazing and exhausting.
My church (Waconia Ward) donates gifts to the residents of Good Samaritan Care Center. When our ward became smaller last year because of boundary changes, we invited the Eden Prairie Ward to help us out. What a wonderful way to give gifts to those who are nearing the end of their lives, but can still offer so much. I was in charge and had lots of help. The best helpers were brothers, Casey and Austin. They were such a big help. And there were wonderful families who came and help deliver the 100 gift bags.
I also drove some of the youth to the St. Paul Temple to do baptisms for the dead. Long drive. Very different from being a leader in Salt Lake. Here they put you to work. Small temple. Wonderful volunteers from the wards around MN and I got to be one of them. It was a bit hard being there with one of the young women who keeps telling lies about my son. I was nice to her, but I did want to shove her into the corner of the dressing room and ask her what her problem is. But I didn't. I smiled and was helpful. I do this because I know crazy people and she is one of them. That took a lot out of me.
I also was one of the Waconia Area Women of Today in charge of the Waconia District 110 Toy Drive. There were meetings with my wonderful co-chairs. Cary was and is amazing. She passed out signs to businesses and was busy, busy, busy. All the other co-chairs did their job above and beyond. There were e-mails and phone calls from businesses who wanted to be drop sites for toys and lovely people who wanted to volunteer their time. There were e-mails and phone calls from people in need of help this season.
On Wed., Dec. 14, I left work at 1:00 and picked up books from Bayview Elementary's 2nd grade. They collected books and money for the Toy Drive.
The second graders at Bayview Elementary School in Waconia recently completed Books For Kids, a holiday tradition where the students collect books and monetary donations for books that are donated to the Waconia Toy Drive. Over the years, Bayview second graders have collected more than 3,000 books for the effort. This year, the students donated more than 200 books worth $1,400+ for the effort. The 8th annual Waconia Toy Drive concludes at the Waconia Fire Station on Thursday, Dec. 15. Patriot photo by Todd Moen
Then I went over to the Fire Station to get tables organized and set up. Randy Sorenson, Fire Chief, has been so wonderful to let us use the Station and bother him with questions and us just being us. Then a couple of the city workers came over with two big truckloads of gifts from the amazing people and businesses who had donated. Dan Benham's hockey team came over and started getting everything organized. I was so impressed that a group of teenage boys could work so hard and carefully. They were amazing. Later a group from St. Joseph's Catholic Church came over and finished the organizing. We actually had to forcefully stop the hockey team from organizing because we needed something for the kids from St. Joe's to do.
I did get to go home for dinner on Wednesday evening. Back to the Station at 8:00 am. People were already lined up, waiting for the doors to open at 9:00 am. We had people volunteering to wrap presents and volunteering to be "personal shoppers." The personal shoppers have a list of how many gifts, games, books and stocking stuffers each child gets and a list of the genders and ages of the children the parents are "shopping" for. They also carry the big bags to hold all the gifts. This went from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm.
When it looked liked no other parents were coming, we started boxing up the gifts that were left. We sent boxes to a family homeless shelter in North Minneapolis, Ridgeview Hospital Pediatrics Unit, the two elementary schools, the Ronald McDonald House, Children's Hospital, and a battered women's shelter.
There were so many amazing parents who needed help this year. One beautiful woman had shopped for her kids and stopped back by the registration table where we were sitting. She had tears on her cheeks and told her how thankful she was. We hugged her and told her that she was the reason we do this.
The best part was that this year there were not any women shopping who had their nails done, really nice purses and outfits that looked like they cost $200.00. And no, the people who did shop for their kids were not in gross clothes and did not look like they were "needy." But there is a difference in people who are doing their best and need help with toys for their kids and people who are spending their money on stoopid stuff and taking advantage of the kindness of others.
I have spending this week going through piles of papers and organizing and recycling. It is strange not having any snow in MN. I did get my Christmas cards sent out before Christmas. Today I sent off two boxes to Salt Lake. Just little gifts so the family doesn't forget who we are.
Love to friends and families. Peace and Good Will Toward Men.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.