Saturday, 10 November 2012

15th Annual Snowsuit Exchange, DONE

    For the fifteenth year in a row I am happy to say that many local children will be warm this winter.  I have to admit it's a pretty good feeling.  It's a lot of work, but it's worth it.  It also feels really good to know that I had a hand in it, I'm not going to lie.  Having said that I could not do what we do without a lot of help.   There are lots of hands at work.  My husband Christopher is the muscles of the operations. He loads all of my huge totes full of snowsuits to and from the church.  He sets up the tables and breaks them down, and then he does it all again when we are done the exchange.  Then there are my amazing volunteers, My Mom, Katrina Haynes, and one of my best friend's Lisa Carter.  They have helped me for years.  They help me lay the snowsuits out , and they help families find the right sizes for their children, and then they help me pack up what's left.  This year I had two extra helpers.  Lisa's daughter Kaitlyn and my daughter's Grace and Riley helped set up.  We had a very good friend of Lisa's son's help us drum up business, and help to pack it all up.  Collin was so cheerful and helpful.  There is also the St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church perish, who kindly donate the use of their basement to us.  Without all of them, we could not do it.
    Every year there is a family that makes me shake my head, and get irritated, usually they are the people who feel like the world owes them something.  Every year there is a family that reminds me why we do this, those families drown out the irritating ones.  This year was no different.  There is no point talking about the irritating families, we all know them, the ones that go around taking everything they can get their hands on, but never bringing anything... the one's that think the world is there for their taking.  Those are the families that make me question why am I giving up so much of my time?  Why am I asking people to help me financially and physically for "those" people.  It crosses my mind every year, that it's just not worth my trouble.  Thankfully there are the families who make it worth the effort. There have been years where I have had the privilege of giving a child brand new winter boots and matching hat and snowsuit.  Some of those children have never in their lives ever owned anything new.  To those children, that snowsuit that my children would not even think twice about, to those children the new clothing is something a kin to a million dollars.  I have had little girls dance teary eyed because they are so excited.  I have had little ones dance around the room excitedly doing a fashion show of their new to them, winter clothing.  I have had mother's who have wept with gratitude because they just didn't know how they were going to outfit their children that year.  There is always at least one family who makes me grateful for my own life, and feel privileged to be able to help.
    Normally when I arrive for the morning there is a line up of people outside the doors waiting for me. There have been years that people have been sorting through the bins of winter clothing as I am putting it out (thus the reason that we now set up the night before).  This year we had one person when we opened the doors.  It was odd.  As the morning progressed, there was a small stream of people come in, but not nearly as many as years past, or as many as I felt that there should be.  The afternoon brought in a little more steady traffic, but still our numbers were way down, where were they all?  Collin came in at 2:00 to help us pack up, but little did he know that we would set him to work.  We gave poor Collin a sign and sent him out into the cold to bring people in, and bring them in he did.  I am happy to say that there were not too many jackets left.  We outfitted a lot of local families again this year.

Poor Collin didn't know what he was
in for when he volunteered to help.
    I say that it's another year done, but it's really not.  The actual "exchange" is done, but I will receive phone calls all winter long from social service agencies, teachers, and parents, looking for winter clothing.  The exchange is done, but unfortunately there will still be cold children, I guess we will just have to try to outfit as many as we can.  Each year the money in the bank is almost depleted, but the calls keep coming in.  It is almost as if by magic, that just when I wonder what we will do to get the money to outfit that child, when a generous donor comes to the rescue.  Since becoming a registered charity, we have not had to turn a child away, and that is a really good feeling.

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