Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mantel of Giving 2013

In case you're new here and not familiar with Mantel of Giving, my church the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair adopts a school in Newark each year to make sure that every kid in grades Pre-K through 2nd gets a holiday gift.  For some of these kids, it's the only present they'll get.

A lot of them ask for coats and pants and socks and shoes and boots for Christmas because they need them and no one else is going to buy them.  It's a really cool experience and it's something I look forward to all year.

But this morning, delivery day, the snow flew, which meant that a number of things went wrong.

It took an hour and a half for me to get to the U where we were supposed to meet at 7:30 AM to pack up the gifts.

The facilities manager, the guy with the keys to let us in, was also late, also because of the snow.

By the time I got there things were well in hand but I felt terrible for being so late.  We finished loading and headed off to Newark.

When we arrived at the school the back door was locked.  So we parked and walked around the block (there's no parking in the front) to the front door, met the security guard on duty and walked through the build to open things up in back.

It was at this point that I realized I had lost my keys.  Could they be with the security guard? I had had to sign in after all...but no.  They weren't. So I retraced my steps as I frantically searched for my spare.  As I walked, looking in vain through my very organized purse I had this teeny tiny baby memory of giving my spare to my husband.  Yes, yes, I had given it to him a few weeks ago and while I vaguely remember getting it back from him I have no idea where I put it.

Just as I was going into full-blown panic mode (Kevin is going to have to drive from Plainfield to Newark to get me, to get the car, but wait he gave me the spare back so what is he even going to use to unlock my door? What are we going to do?  Will my car have to live in this lot in Newark until the manufacturer can send a new key?  How long will that take?  What about the events I have to cover this week?  Will I need to get a rental?  Will insurance cover stupidity?) I saw something up ahead.  it looked like it might be garbage.  It was something, sticking up out of the snow...could it be...dare I hope?  I sped up until I was jogging through the snow to - YES! My keys!  On the sidewalk in the snow, right where they had fallen out of my pocket.  Yes.  Thank you.  It was the first good thing that had happened all morning.

Once I got back inside the auditorium I realized that it was now quarter to nine and Santa had not arrived yet.  Not problem.  I have his number.  I called.  It's now Not In Service.  Crap.  Okay, no problem.  We checked with the guidance counselor and a very nice teacher's aid was happy to put on the suit for us and play the jolly old elf.  Not every kid was convinced that they weren't looking at a guy they see every day but hey, you can't win 'em all.

From there things started to get really good.  The guidance counselor was texting the next teacher as we finished with each class so we got through 181 kids in three hours.  It's literally the fastest we've ever moved before.
Pre-K kids waiting patiently for the presents!

And the kids were so excited.  They were so happy with their gifts!  Their eyes got all big and their smiles, which were tentative in the beginning, were so wide at the end.  The teachers were so helpful and the volunteers were rocking and rolling.  I couldn't ask for a better experience.  Thank you to everyone who participated - you make this job easy!!!

Our volunteers!
Big thank yous to: The Szmak Family, The Kanengiser Family, The Loflin Family, the Senior Youth of UUCM, Angie Tsirkas, Maria Castaniera, Linda Hundley, Janet Miller, Kristen Phillips, Cathy Montella, Shelley Morse, Ingrid Andrade, Gilberto Valentine, Mary Wander Polo, Bidisa Rai, Sherry Daviet, Elaine Lomax, Sean Carroll, Christine Massey, Tina Renna, Sarah Kim, Bill Gresham, Carole Moran, The DiPaolo Family, and the Eyre-Wood Family.

Additional, massive thank you to my awesome babycakes of a hubs. You very graciously put up with all of my extracurriculars and this one is a doozy. Love your face!

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