It started like any other morning before a Spreading Joy event. A million things running through my mind and this time, it’s a little different because I’m planning and handling much of the Christmas JOY event for the ladies at the Battered Womens Shelter & children from my hotel room in Virginia. Then it hits me. SNOW!! It was supposed to snow over night. I hurry to the huge window in my room and sure enough, IT’S SNOWING!!!! The little girl in me is so very excited! I can immediately see that there are several inches on the ground already. I’m supposed to work a half day and then head home to Charlotte NC and start picking up toys for Friday nights Christmas JOY event! I quickly get ready and head to work.
Much like a child that can’t wait to get out in the snow, I find a window and look out. It is pouring snow! Buckets! My heart is filled with worry at this point. How am I going to make it home? I call my sister. Tell her what I’m seeing. She tries to comfort me saying, things will be a little stressful but it will be ok. I quickly tell her that “you are NOT seeing what I’m seeing!” We chat about the possibilities of me not making it back. Two of the greatest things I love are both now tugging at my heart, snow and Spreading Joy. I head back to work thinking ok, it will work out no matter if I get home or not. I’m just going to enjoy my gift of snow! I finish out my half day of work, head back to my hotel and preparations start. The phone calls to my mom, sister and friends asking for help. The planning of who will do what, just in case I can’t make it back into town. These ladies deserve a wonderful meal, a time of fun and laughter and these toys for their kids. I’m determined to make it happen and with friends and family that have huge hearts, it goes off without a hitch!
The phone calls come in, “you won’t believe what Clark Nexsen collected for this event!” My friends Dave and Dale from Iron Mountain assure me it will be fine for them to bring the toys to me! Wow! Not only did they collect toys, but made things easier for me by bringing them to me, knowing that I was short on time! Amazing!
We get to the church, start setting up, sorting toys, picking up food, decorating and having fun. Later that evening I hop aboard a bus with my brother in law and we had to pick up the ladies and children. We are enjoying a trip back and I tease the ladies that we are having MY favorite meal – HOT DOGS! I giggle and tell them that Olive Garden has graciously given pasta, salad and bread sticks. We are all excited.
Everyone gets settled, and is eating, laughing, relaxing and having fun. There are enough workers so that the ladies that need help with their small children can eat their meals without worry for their tiny ones. I love the view, the children laughing and slurping up spaghetti, the moms smiling and chatting with one another. Peace, happiness and pure JOY surround me! My heart is soaring beyond belief!
The children stay in the fellowship hall and I take the ladies with me next door so that they can “shop” for their children. I thank them for coming and being such a wonderful part of my Christmas! I have been thinking about them all week and take a few minutes to tell them the wonderful attributes I see in them. I give them instructions as to where to find the toys, the gift wrapping stations and such. I wander through the halls as the ladies “shop”, listening to the giggling, listening to the oooohhhhh and ahhhh’s, listening to the thrill in their hearts as they pick out toys for their children. There are Easy Bake Ovens, dolls, Barbie dolls, stuff animals, play dough sets, Tonka Trucks, footballs, basket balls, games and so much more! There are literally 4 rooms full of toys for these wonderful ladies to choose from!
The ladies finish wrapping and start heading to get their children and load back on the bus and van. Several people volunteer to follow behind to “haul” presents as there’s no way all the people and the gifts are going to fit. I love each and every single HUG that I am receiving! The sparkly eyes, bright smiles and huge warm HUGS are priceless. Everyone leaves and I look around and the Spreading JOY heroes have already started cleaning up! Wow!! Amazing!
The night is perfect. Chaos, silliness, fun, Christmas music, laughter, toys, food, drinks, hugs and the mile wide smiles make it memorable!
But, the giving is not over with yet! Sunday, more toys are given out. To a local church and some for a teacher who has some homeless children in her class. Thursday NIGHT – MORE toys will be given away!! A week of Christmas JOY, my heart can hardly stand it! It is flooded with happiness and JOY!
We were able to distribute 545 toys and books this year. This is no small feat as we normally have 8 or 10 companies collecting toys and this year, we didn’t have that many.
Thank you seems so small in the light of what YOU did to make Christmas JOY 2010 possible.
Thank you to the director of Amy’s House, Vicky, for the wonderful work you do to help these ladies! It is my honor to make a difference for them, to encourage them and to remind them just how very special they are!
Thank you to Olive Garden for providing the meal for us! There was plenty of delicious food for everyone to enjoy! Thank you to Jim Taylor and Marvin McAllister for picking up food for us. Thank you Dave Finley for meeting me with toys and saving me so much time. Thank you Momma, Angie and Meg for picking up toys on Thursday for me while I enjoyed my gift of snow and stayed safely at the hotel. Thank you Dale and Jeanne Strickland for being available at a phone calls notice to pick up toys for me and for helping out the night of the event.
Thank you to Pastor Jerry Taylor and Mrs. Taylor of New Grace Baptist Church for the use of your wonderful facilities and being available “just in case” I was snowed in! Thank you to the wonderful members of New Grace for volunteering to help serve, sort, clean, wrap, entertain and for the great JOY you brought my way! I could not have made it without your help!
Thank you to Patterson Pope for giving us employees paid Community Service time to make a difference in our world!
Thank you to my family for supporting Spreading JOY the way you do, helping and allowing me to make a difference right where I am. Thank you Tripp and Bob for driving the vehicles to bring the ladies to the church.
Thank you Quiznos, Iron Mountain, Clark Nexsen, Arthur Squad, Stone Pump and Trench and Linden ARP church for collecting toys.
Thank you my precious twitterverse for your online donations, the interviews to spread the word and for using your voice to reach people that I couldn’t reach without your help! You were instrumental in making Christmas JOY 2010 a huge success!
YOU are all HEROES and I hope as you watch the video, read and recount this week of Spreading JOY that your heart is flooded with warmth, love and pure delight for the part that YOU played for Christmas