We delivered approximately 200 toys to the Newton Street School in Newark today and I'm worn out, happy, and just a bit sad.
The principal thanked us at the end and reminded us that for a lot of these kids it's the only Christmas they'll get this year. Not the only gift. The only Christmas. Which means when we wake up on the 25th ready to rip open wrapping paper and have a ridiculously indulgent breakfast, these kids will wake up in their apartments and spend the day at home with no celebration, many of them cold and hungry because school is the only place where they get breakfast and lunch.
At the end of a day like this I always feel like we did so much, and so not enough. The endless coordinating with the school and management of the mantel process, checking wishes out, checking gifts back in, making sure there are enough extras so that every single kid from Pre-K to 3rd grade gets something on the day of, transporting everything, having enough volunteers to make it all work...it's a lot.
And again, it could be so much more. I hate that the 4th graders don't get anything. I hate that we have to discourage people from giving bikes because they probably won't make it home. I hate that these kids are living in conditions I wouldn't touch in a million years.
Thank you to everyone who participated, especially MVPs Kris Wood and Alexandra Eyre, good friends who every year send an Amazon gift card to make sure we have an inventory of extras. Thanks to the drivers, thanks to the elves who help out every single year, thanks to the parents who let our Senior Youth skip school so they can participate, thanks to the school who let us in and fed us.
Thanks to Courtney Allen who up until this year has led the charge and not once slacked in the enthusiasm department. The torch has officially been passed to me and I'm scared to death. On the other hand, the army of volunteers and all the love and magic I saw today makes me think we'll miss Courtney, but we'll figure out a way to do it without him. Somehow.
Until next time, Fellow Elves.