There is simply no word that describes what it feels like to make a difference in 300 family’s lives during the holiday season. The two that come close to describe the experience are “humbling” and “awesome”!
On Sunday, the Friends of Oakley had its annual Christmas Basket Distribution Event give where 300 families were able to pick up packages that include a turkey, bread, fruit, canned goods, and even fudge. A toy was also included to ensure 800 children in these families had something for Christmas morning, while 200 gift bags were created for seniors.
I’ll be honest, a few months ago, I had no idea this community foundation even existed. I had no idea this group made such a positive influence on the community and helped touch so many people’s lives. In the months leading up to the giveaway, I learned more about the foundation and began to participate by working with a wonderful Board of Directors.
I heard stories about the event, I knew about what transpired on this day, and thought I understood what goes on. As much as we all like to think we know about something, let’s be honest, we really don’t “get it” until we live it.
While the last couple of weeks have provided a whirlwind of emotions, it was all worth it in the end.
First, $4,000 worth of toys were stolen. Then the community stepped up with donations and the toys were placed—this allowed us enough time to sort, wrap, and package the baskets to specific families all within a matter of a week and a half. Keep in mind; this was all done with people in the community volunteering their time. It doesn’t hit you in terms of how much food and toys were donated until all the work is completed and the gymnasium at O’Hara Park is full of stuff.
On the day of the distribution, even more volunteers show up and its the organized chaos that occurs where it finally hits you and you realize the experience in that moment.
The Foundation Board worked all year for this day, you really don’t see the end result of their labor of love until everyone is moving and working together like a well-oiled machine.
This community is flat out amazing with its selfless actions.
There was nothing better than seeing a few children posing with Santa for a picture while food and toys were loaded into vehicles. There was nothing more precious than a seven-year-old volunteering to grab a frozen turkey and walk it up to a vehicle to hand off to a family and says “Merry Christmas” with a huge smile on her face as she ran to grab another turkey for the next family. It was just a cool sight to see pure enjoyment of a child helping the community.
I knew I lived in a wonderful community, but this was the icing on the cake. It opened my eyes that we are full of wonderful people who want to improve the community through actions, rather than just talk about it.
I want to say thank you to everyone who participated. For one day, people came together to help people and it’s something I will never forget as I am moved by the experience.
I tip my hat to everyone who participated forwards this wonderful cause.
Please Note: I will be posting pictures from the event in the coming days. Please check back.