I remember at least one Christmas as a child where my family was helped by the kindness and generosity of others.  Due to these people I will never know, my brothers, sister and I got presents under the tree.  We were able to have a special breakfast with Santa.  We were taken on a shopping trip where we each got to spend a certain amount of money.  The kind woman that was with just us kids made sure we bought presents for mom and dad too.

I don’t remember how old I was, but I was old enough to understand.  We were getting Christmas because of others.  By then I already knew presents weren’t the reason for Christmas, but I remember feeling happy that I’d be able to tell my friends and classmates what I got.  That first day back to school was always filled with tales of presents, showing off new loot, and sharing fun stories. 

I felt relief.  I’d be able to answer these questions without feeling bad; without feeling poor.  I think this was so much more important than the actual toys and clothes I receive.

For my younger siblings, they got so much joy out of the presents and entire experience.  I don’t know how much they understood what was happening and why.  To them it was a great adventure that made us each feel special.  Only certain kids were invited to that breakfast with Santa you know.  To get this invite must certainly mean we had been the best-est kids E V E R!

A few years later I convinced my 4-H club to adopt a family for Christmas.  I knew how important and meaningful this was for those kids, that I’d once been like.  Every year since then I have adopted a kid, or a family, or donated presents.  In part this is my way of saying thank you to those that had helped us so long ago while also paying it forward.

When I started dating my husband, the reason for donating took on a deeper meaning.  My husband lost his first child, his baby girl, to SIDS.  Now we adopt a little girl that is the same age as his Angel would be now.  We do it in honor and memory of her. 

My stepsons help us pick out gifts.  We explain to them why we do it.  We explain how we need to help other kids get gifts like they’re going to get.   Now that they’re 9 and 10 they understand a little better the importance of what we’re doing.
I share all of this with you because over the last several days the station has received several press releases from organizations whose donations are severely down.  Some have had to turn families away after telling them they could help them.  The numbers of people asking for assistance has increased for all these organizations.

I look at the news stories and economic reports that say the economy has turned around, but right now, I don’t see it this way.  Even two years ago when the reports were blasting how horrible it was and that we needed to prepare for the long haul, people still donated.  I don’t know if the reports are so far off and reality is the economy for the majority is worse, or if people haven’t felt this economic turn-around yet and can’t donate, or if people sacrificed in the past and are now treating themselves, or if spirit and morale is so low that the Grinch is more prevalent in our character.

At the same time I see people responding to the need and going above and beyond to reach out with helping hands.  Once again CBS Denver has partnered with King Soopers for a Toy Drive for the Boys and Girls Club of Metro Denver.  The donations have been amazing, but the numbers are significantly lower than years past.  I don’t know if the numbers are this way because the number of kids has increased dramatically, or if donations are way down, or a combination of both.

The station is going to have an Emergency Toy Drive Tuesday, Dec. 21st to try to gather as many gifts as possible for these kids.  If you are at all able to give even one small gift, I ask you to do so.  Even if you don’t help with the station’s toy drive, there are many organizations accepting donations of food, clothing and toys. 

I know you hear it all the time, “it’s for the kids.”  I assure you, it really is all for the kids.  I can also imagine how my parents felt when we received help.  It’s for the entire family.  While Christmas isn’t about gifts, it is about love, kindness and family.