Last year was my first time volunteering as an elf for the Christmas Is For Kids program. It was an amazing experience, so I'm back this year helping to make kids' wishes come true. And this time I brought some family members with me. My son Christopher has begrudgingly slipped on his pointy shoes. I feel it is important that he sees how many children are in need. My Mother Jeanine and her friend Nancy have also decided to sport some pointy ears.
Before I started my elf training this year, I made sure the bulk of my "home" responsibilities were done. I got most of my shopping out of the way, the decorations are out and some pre-made meals are in the freezer. I was ready for the craziness to begin—or so I thought.
Quick run down of CIFK
CIFK provides a merry Christmas to children who might otherwise go without one. This could be for various reasons, including a family job loss, illness and/or other special circumstances. A story sheet is filled out by a family member or social worker that identifies the child with his or her name. It is turned into a number and the child's hopes and wishes are written down for the elves and hopefully a generous donor to see.
There are three ways a child's needs can be filled:
- A donor comes forward and buys everything that child needs, approximately $150 worth of clothes and toys.
- A couple donors come forward to split up the shopping list.
- CIFK shops in-house, fulfilling the child's needs with items from the "free shopping room," which houses donated toys and clothing, or donated funds are used to shop for that child's needs.
Second week in and things are looking bleak.
Donations have been coming in at a snail's pace. We need your help.
Returning this year, I had forgotten about the sad stories you can sometimes read on the story sheets. The awful circumstances that have a child seeking help are the reasons I toss and turn at night.
As I told you, I brought my son this year. I wanted to shield him from the worst circumstances, but I still hoped he would "get it." I was hoping that if he saw the more than 900 children in the form of wish lists and bags of needs, he might be grateful for all he has. The minute I signed him in, he was whisked away by a Head Elf Mark, my protective momma wings laid by my side. I was told a shipment of toys came in and needed to be unloaded.
So off I went to see what my duties would be that night. I restocked supplies, took shelf inventory with my brain, waited around for two hours hoping a bag would come in from a donor, but nothing arrived. Christopher had been given a tour, made some friends and spent the rest of the night throwing a paper ball around. I begged him not to tell his dad that it was so dead. I explained to him that I was not abandoning his brother and sister to do nothing, that there was a purpose to why I was there.
I wish I could tell you a happy ending, but that depends on you
The volunteers are getting restless, the higher-ups are getting short with each other and elves are crying. It's not a great situation. We are all there because we want nothing more than these families to have a wonderful Christmas. But the stress of pulling this miracle out of thin air really is getting to us all. So I ask you, please look around your house for any new, unopened items for ages 0-18 years. If you spot a great deal on a cool new toy, please consider buying and donating it.
Or better yet, call 508-226-0911 and sponsor a child in need. Please help! Give these children the Christmas miracle they deserve. The elves and I thank you!
For more information about CIFK and how you can help, go to www.councilforchildren.org/cifk