Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks

A volunteer wraps a gift for a needy child.

In spite of the economy I have a lot to be thankful for, especially my time spent with area families, my family and all of you who lend support to what we do.  I am grateful to all those who made it possible for us to hold our Halloween events. It seems like we just packed away those decorations and we’re already bringing our Christmas items up from the basement.

The Christmas Party is planned for Sunday December 21st, 11:00am-6:00pm.  Already, the phone has been ringing with families wishing to sign up. Sign ups begin the day after Thanksgiving.

I’m a little anxious about finding the resources required to host a party that each year serves 1,000 children.  These tough times cause us to thoughtfully consider where we spend our money. For some, the thought of giving even a small portion of income to assist people outside of their own family is out of the question.  Others feel giving to people in greater need is a commitment which they keep even in difficult times. 

For more than 15 years, I have been able to provide programming for area youth that builds healthier relationships between the community and the Police Department.  A recent survey of families who have attended our programs, conducted by an SU student, testifies to this fact.  I didn’t need data to tell me this. I’ve witnessed it firsthand.  But I am grateful for the data to convince those who need more evidence that what we do makes a difference.

I could never say enough that I could not do this without you.  Some of you have been helping us from the beginning.  Others have joined in along the way. Together we’ve been making a difference in the lives of numerous children and families.  Your support over the years has given me the privilege of joining literally hundreds of families and thousands of children during some of their most joyous times. Not only did you give them wonderful memories, you gave them to me also. Who could ask for more out of life than that?  Each event, each family and each child that has walked through our door has been a treasure to me. Thank you for making this possible.

Over the years we have sometimes added or dropped programs temporally according to our finances. This year is the first time I considered dropping one of our main holiday events, the Pumpkin Carving Party.  Thankfully, some of you stepped up in big ways to ensure we had the things we needed to hold the event. I believe our total of pumpkins carved was 336 pumpkins.  That was not enough.  We ran out.

The Annual Children’s Christmas Party is our biggest event. The number of children who attend during a good economic year is around 1,000. I wonder how many more we may see this year in this difficult economy?

To make it possible, we need donations of funds and goods, as well as volunteer labor.  At the top of the list are gifts for children of various ages, from a few months old to teens.  However, we also need:  Wrapping paper, name tags (self-stick), tape, snacks, drinks, coffee, cups, paper plates, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, hand soap, trash bags, ink cartridges & photo paper (3 x 5 or 4 x 6). 

Since Polaroid film is no longer being made, we don’t know how we will manage the photos with Santa this year. When you multiply the cost by 1,000, expenses quickly add up.  Digital is much less expensive, but it’s a little more involved.  We have found that a small but quick photo printer would help.  It costs between $90-125.  We may add that to our letter to Santa, since it will meet the demand for quick portable printing of digital photos at this event and others.  Donations of any of these items or monetary donations to help us purchase them will help make this event possible.  

In addition, we need volunteers to help prepare for the party and on the day of the event as follows:   

GIFT WRAPPING:  On two separate evenings during the week before the party, we need help bringing gifts to Senior Centers, and coordinating the wrapping of gifts: 

  • One night (TBA) from 6:00pm-9:00pm at Salina School Apartments.
  • A second night from 6:00pm-9pm at Franklin Square Apartments

PARTY:  On the day of the party, volunteers are needed to help sign families in, serve food, wrap gifts, take photos with Santa, print the photos, give out gifts, answer the phone, clean up, etc.  If you can help, please call (315)471-3257.  We encourage you to sign up in advance. The length of the party requires us to offer shifts and rotate assignments. Please call me before the party to review your assignment. 

Thank you to all who share in the Christmas spirit by giving of yourselves.  Those who know they’ve been blessed and have things to be thankful for, pay it forward.

Wishing you a happy holiday season,

Officer Clarke