So, many of you who read here regularly will know three things:
(a) I used to run a charity, CARE Package, in memory of our son Robby.
(b) I am well-versed in the art of using coupons.
(c) I donated several toys recently to Toys For Tots.
I wanted to make a bigger impact. We have long donated presents for Christmas and birthdays each year in Robby's name, but we had gotten a little behind for a while there. I had tons and tons of rewards to use up from Walgreens, so when I saw that there was a good sale on toys there, I knew I could use up my rewards to buy up a bunch of toys to donate and make up for lost time.
In the photo above, there are 11 toys. Now, that may seem like a good amount, and it certainly covered the occasions when we had nothing to give for Robby's memory, but as a mathematicer, 11 just wasn't cutting the mustard. I needed a better number. And I still had lots more rewards.
I gathered up Rob and the kiddos and headed to another Walgreens down the way for more toys. I was able to get so many more, getting my total to two dozen. I had boy toys and girl toys, unisex toys, toddler toys and big-kid toys... I had my bases covered!
My next conundrum involved choosing the beneficiary. I thought about it for a while and eventually decided that, in keeping with donating in Robby's memory, the recipients should be sick children in the hospital. There is a Miami Children's Hospital here, and the University of Miami has a PICU. I made some calls and got through to the UM patient outreach coordinator first.
It was meant to be. There's a Ronald McDonald House near that children's hospital, and since we had stayed in the RMH of Pensacola ourselves when Chloë was in the NICU 12 years ago, I knew what sort of needs there were.
I had a stockpile of more than just toys. I had all things necessary for the freshest of breath, deodorants, hair care products, and so much more. I had coffee and sweeteners. I had candy out the wazoo.
I called the coordinator back and asked if they could use all of this. "Will it fit on a stretcher?" she asked me. "You better bring two," I responded, and I was right.
When we got to the UM Hospital campus around 1530 on Tuesday afternoon, the coordinator and a NICU assistant were waiting, each with a stretcher. The kids waited in the car while Rob and I filled both beds with toys upon toys, toiletries galore, and sweets and coffees.
The hospital will be having a big holiday party on Christmas Eve, and the sick patients' parents will be able to go in and choose presents for them from what we brought and what others have donated. They'll also be able to pick toys for the siblings of those children, since it's difficult to go gift shopping when you have a child in the hospital for days or weeks or even months on end.
The coffee and toiletries will go over to the Ronald McDonald House. The residents there will be able to take whatever they need, which is great since there aren't too many stores around the hospital for getting such necessities. I plan to keep collecting these on my coupon adventures and bring them up to the hospital on the regular.
And finally, the candies will go in dishes for parents and nurses alike, and they'll also be used at the various holiday events that the staff will host this month. I even donated several dozen gift bags that they can fill with treats and smaller toys, out of my stash.
I can't tell you how elated I felt after pulling away from the hospital a half-hour later. The coordinator and I exchanged hugs and some tears, and I promised to make them the regular recipients of our in-kind donations in Robby's memory. I got my warm fuzzies for the day - no, the week - from that. The whole plan wasn't altruistic at all. I needed it. It felt great. I loved everything involved with it.
At home that evening, I set up the wreath I'd snagged from Walgreens, along with a little outdoor "tree." We can't put a tree up inside our house, because we just don't have the room for one and if we tried, surely the cats would knock it down and wreck everything. I'm still thinkering on what to do about that in the years to come, since we have a lovely ornament collection I'd like to display. Any thoughts on that are most welcome!
Did you participate in Giving Tuesday? What did you do? I'd love to hear.
'Tis the season...!