Sunday, December 4, 2011

Brown Santa

Yesterday we spent the entire day working for Brown Santa and it was great.  Let me give you the highlights:

1.  Weather:  It was overcast and sprinkled a lot, but it really wasn't too bad.  No one got soaked.  Kids were in shorts and tshirts.  Gotta love that.

2.  Random Acts of Kindness:  Each year we start the Brown Santa campaign by sending emails to friends and neighbors.  That is where we get the majority of our donations because we actually live in the best community in the world.  Additionally, the boys walk the neighborhood and put flyers on doors of people we don't know.  This year they spent several evenings after school putting flyers on about 300 houses letting our neighbors know we would be picking up donations on Saturday morning.  So yesterday morning we drive all the streets where they left flyers and look for donations that were left on front porches for us.  So, when we get a donation from someone we don't know personally, but just put a flyer on their door we call these Random Acts of Kindness or RAKs!  RAKs are the highlight of the day.  Nothing better than spotting a bag on the front porch of someone's house and screaming out "Random Act of Kindness".  Yesterday, we had fourteen.  At one house there were four huge bags of stuffed animals.

RAKs put smiles on faces.

3.   Random Acts of Crap:  RAC's are the opposite of a good find.  These are bags, that we think at first glance are stuffed animals or books, but on closer inspection turn out to be someone's trash!  ACK!  You have no idea how many people put their trash on their front step.  Yesterday, we couldn't tell what was in a particular bag, so Peggy tore a hole in the top and reached in to see if it was soft fuzzy animals.  She pulled out a diaper!  We freaked, we laughed, she showered herself with Purell to the point that we had to roll all the windows in the car down to breathe.  At our next drop off she went immediately to scour her hands.  Hysterical. RAC count was eight I think.  We were thrilled that RAKs outnumbered RACs.

4.  Sorting:  We filled up the Suburban three or four times and took the loot back to our garage.  After, it was all gathered, we sort through it to make sure we are giving just the best of the best stuff to Brown Santa.  It took a couple of hours to sort, count, box and bag the donations.  This is the hardest part of the whole process, but it sure is fun to pull out a brand spanking new stuffed animal and know it is going to a deserving kid.  We have several more bags to go through, but our initial delivery to Brown Santa yesterday was 411 books, 384 stuffed animals and 10 new toys.  Woo Hoo!

5.  Delivery:  We filled my Suburban to the brim and Peggy's Expedition to the hilt!  The folks at Brown Santa asked if we were a church organization when they started helping us unload.  We told him we were just a couple of families.  They were  very appreciative and it felt really good to fill up their bins and know the great quality of the stuff we were delivering.  Side note:  Books are so much heavier than stuffed animals!

6.  Wrapping:  After we dropped off our donations we stayed at Brown Santa to wrap gifts for a couple of hours.  The place was packed with Girl Scout troops, boy scouts, families, lots and lots of folks taking time out of their day to help.  That was great to see.

7.  The Reality:  There are a lot of families in need.  This year Brown Santa expects to serve 2100 families.  What a lifesaver they are for families that would otherwise have no presents under the tree.  While we wrapped it became so apparent how needed more stuffed animals and books are to this organization.  Here were some real choices that were on the shelves for volunteers to choose to wrap up for these kids.

Book selection was so sad, especially for older kids.  Here is one example of a book choice for a 13 - 15 year old.  A Dr. Phil Food Guide.  Not what I would want my child to open on Christmas morning.  There were old Economics text books, Yoga books, How to Start a Business books.  Ugh, it was so depressing.  Especially being a reader and knowing how amazing books can be and how they can inspire and entertain you.  I can't wait for them to get our donated books on the shelves.  There were some amazing books that a kid would not only enjoy but maybe even LOVE.  I am going to back through our shelves and see if we can part with any more of our books to donate.

The stuffed animal choices were also sad, especially for the older kids.  Again, can't wait for them to restock the bins with the amazing and beautiful stuffed animals that our neighbors and friends donated.  

8. Bottom Line:  I was so proud of our kids for helping and participating with happy and willing hearts.  It was so important for them to see first hand that their efforts were worth it and can make a difference.  

A day spent helping others is a day well spent.  

And then when you get home you can pass out on the couch!  Which is what I did!  

Another rainy day today, but must get out and run some errands!  Maybe put on a pot of soup!  Perfect weather for that!  Have an awesome day! 


  1. good for you all! great post and great pix. #3 RAC - had me belly laughing! sorry...yuck!!!!