I’ll just be honest. Early December is a blur. A distant memory. A fuzzy memory. Things were moving quickly, and there were many times I felt swamped. Likely that is because I was LITERALLY swamped. Why? Settle in, sweets… it’s story time.
There was a point way back in late August when us gals at Give Her Wings were chatting… in a Facebook chat box, of course… about how much fun our August campaign had been. The response from our supporters was fantastic, and we loved the process of gifting small items to our mamas as much as they loved receiving them. During that campaign, a donor had purchased a hand held video game system for one of our kiddos. Her mamma had sent us a precious thank you note, and mentioned that the gift was hidden away for Christmas because it would be a perfect gift under the tree. And then it hit us. So many of our mammas are struggling to pay for their electricity and food… how do they “do” Christmas?
We chatted through what Christmas might look like for one of our mammas. When words like “lonely, difficult, cold, and struggle,” started popping up, it became immediately obvious that Christmas wouldn’t be so merry for many of them. Combine the struggles of every day to the reality that there was likely no money in the budget for gifts for the kids, and the picture was pretty bleak. And well, we just couldn’t have that. While we all KNOW that Christmas is about more than gifts, most of us make that kind of statement while nestled comfortably around our family, food, and gifts, all warm and cozy. We could not put families back together, heal wounds, fill empty bank accounts, or change bleak situations, but maybe we COULD give a gift. Show some love. Put a few items under the tree that said, “You are special and we care so much about you and your family.”
The plan started very simply. One gift per child. A single gift for every child of our mammas. AND, if our campaign was going splendidly, we hoped to also purchase a small gift for our mammas too. (We knew they would want the kiddos to be provided for first, so we set our priorities accordingly.) We laughed as we tried to guess what kind of gifts a teenage boy would want… unchartered territory for three women who have never had a teenage son! We needed some help, so we enlisted one of our mammas! It was such a blessing to watch her in action as she helped us choose appropriate gifts based on age, responsibilities, weather, special needs, and other factors. Our mamma was AMAZING. (She can be my personal shopper anytime!) We also contacted some of the mammas individually and used their input to help put together a wish list.
From there, the concept of a “store” came to life. Our sweet supporters could CHOOSE the gifts they wanted to give, pay for them right there in the store, and we would take care of the rest! Dawn worked her magic on the website and the finished product was just incredible. Even more incredible? The IMMEDIATE response from our supporters!
I truly wish that everyone could’ve watched US as we watched the items being purchased, and flying off our shelf! My phone was “dinging” all day with notifications as Dawn or Megan would squeal, “Someone bought the tool kit!” or “Tea Party Set is sold!” (Confession: this was MORE fun than watching the last hour of your eBay auction when three people get in a bidding war for an item you just want gone from your house….)
Then we had a problem. Our items were selling out and it was still early November. What if we added some things? Would they sell? I think confirmation for this came one crazy morning when I posted in our message box about how I had woken up in the middle of the night, thinking about a story I had read to the kids from the Jesus Storybook Bible. And it was suddenly on my heart to get a Bible like that in the hands of every one of our mammas. I told Dawn and Megan, posted pictures of the pages I had read to the kids, and we decided to just go for it! And, as they always do, our supporters jumped in and bought them…all of them! So, we decided that Christmas was going to get bigger and better.
Donors began stepping in with their own ideas for making this Christmas merrier. They were offering to do things that we had not considered. Stockings for each kiddo came into play. “Pampering” gifts for our mammas. Donated bags and totes to put the gifts in! Pajamas for Christmas morning. It was growing, and growing, and growing. (Much like the Grinch’s heart, if we’re sticking with Christmas themes here…. yes, you know the scene. Makes you smile every time.)
Many of our “store” items had been directly shipped to the mammas… they were all hiding Christmas goodies in closets and under beds and such. But our extras had to be delivered somewhere “neutral” to protect the names/locations of our families. I volunteered my home. Why? It was simple. My favorite part of the whole Christmas gift tradition is wrapping gifts. Seriously. I love it. And I love thinking about the recipient as they unwrap it, and I love boxing them and shipping them and, and, and… so, I got to be “Give Her Wings Central” for this campaign. Oh boy, oh boy. I volunteered BEFORE it grew like the Grinch’s heart. In hindsight, a large storage unit may have been needed! I apologized to my husband when I notified him that he would see his desk (and the whole office) AFTER Christmas. He didn’t care.
Items started arriving. Everyday. The FedEx and UPS men both had to ask at one point. I really chuckled the day FedEx arrived about the same time as my husband and his employees. You cannot imagine the blessing (and humor) in hearing my husband’s employee tell the FedEx man about Give Her Wings and the Merry Little Christmas campaign as they worked together to haul a few BIG boxes in the door. To listen to this man talk about an American Girl doll (he is single, with no children) and where it was headed was kind of music to my ears. These men hauled boxes, moved boxes, carried boxes to my car… and got to listen to me talk about boxes! My point here? This campaign was contagious! It seemed that every time I opened my mouth to talk about it, someone wanted to help! And they did!
(Dawn and Megan were having the same experiences, as donations and gifts were handed to us at every turn. We were in tears one Sunday afternoon as we all hopped into our chat box to say the same thing… someone at church had handed us a donation. That’s right. Three different states, three different churches, three different donations… one Sunday morning.)
I have story after story about check out clerks who broke into smiles (or tears) when I told them what I was up to. (They have to ask questions when you are buying 35 boxes of movie candy one random Thursday morning, or 17 cookie kits late at night…). It seemed that everyone had a personal story to share about a woman in their life who could’ve used a Merry Little Christmas once upon a time. I shed tears with a woman in a Dollar Tree. I hugged a clerk at Big Lots. I made friends with the postal employees. And it was pure joy.
Yes, I was swamped. Literally swamped. The office area of our house was reduced to a small path for navigating through the middle. The rest was covered. Stacked. Consumed by the Merry Little Christmas campaign. (I had to clean it up to take a picture!) I fulfilled my need to wrap gifts. And then promptly wrapped at least 50 more! (My kids may or may not have received their own gifts in gift bags this year…. ahem.) I cannot describe to you the happiness I felt in weeding through all these gifts that represented love and care for our mammas and children. It was an honor to crawl over boxes and sort items and work through the insanity of making sure that each gift was in the right box for shipping!
So honestly? Early December is a blur. But it is a beautiful blur of joy and tears and exhaustion and giggling… and knowing that we helped HER have a Merry Little Christmas. And if I think about it, it really helped ME to have a Merry Little Christmas. I can speak for Dawn and Megan as well. This campaign was a favorite. It confirmed for us that this organization is very much needed. That expansion is a necessity. That a non-profit status is a must. That clearly our supporters love our girls and will continue to care for them. And that our Father is using these little ideas and concepts and campaigns to bless EVERYONE involved.
I did manage to capture some of “blur” of this project and I think that the pictures are worth a thousand words. Enjoy our little video. Revel in what YOU helped to accomplish this past Christmas. Share it with your friends, talk about us. Talk about our mammas. We are growing and we want you on the journey…. thank you for walking this path with us. I cannot help but smile when I think about all that is to come.
Merriest of Little Christmases,