Yesterday I had the honor of speaking live with radio talk show host Nicole Sandler of Radioornot.com, while she was filling in for Randi Rhodes, host of The Randi Rhodes Show. We discussed some of the ways people can help. With time so short before the holiday season, I want to provide y’all a list of things you can do to help Santa get children their basic requests before Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa.
As I told listeners yesterday, I’ve been doing tours to find out what is going on with holiday donations this year. This past weekend I spoke with a representative of the Salvation Army, volunteers at a corner community feed, and more and found that my suspicions were confirmed; holiday giving is down for the 4th year in a row. Giving by the wealthy was down 15% in 2009, 35% in 2010 and it looks like things are worse this year with increases in demand ranging from 10%-30%, depending on the region of the country. We need all Elfs on deck! With 25% of our nation’s children enduring hunger and poverty, we can’t afford not to get involved to protect our/their future and national security.
Last weekend I stopped by the Toys for Tots Drive at the Fox 31/KDVR studios in Denver and found a Pepsi semi sparsely supplied with toy donations. The Salvation Army rep reported that donations at this location were down over last year but that donations were up at the eight Sam’s Club’s locations. While she was trying to put a positive face on the situation, she reported that “in-kind” donations, i.e., socks, shoes, jackets, food, etc. are DOWN this year and that the requests by families has increased by 10% over last year. The rep was encouraged that giving is up a bit at the Red Kettles over last year, when the Denver Salvation Army experienced a 48% drop in donations and 33% nationally. Tonight KUSA 9News Denver reported that Toys for Tots is SHORT 60,000 toys in the Denver area alone! A few minutes later, CBS Denver reported that the Boys & Girls Club Toy Drive is also drastically short of donations. And, this doesn’t even speak to the clothing and food shortages/requests of Santa!
Then, I traveled just a few blocks from downtown Denver, to the blocks around the Denver Rescue Mission & Samaritan House, where I saw over 1000 men, women, and children roaming the streets, looking for a place to sit, lay down, go to the bathroom, etc., with police lurking near by, arresting them for what should be basic human rights. I happened upon a group of volunteers from Evangelist Temple Church, feeding over 400 hungry people on a street corner, also under the watchful eye of the police. Pastor Betty Patterson told me that she’s been feeding the hungry on this same corner for 23 years, whether in a blizzard, or a nice day as I happened upon. Pastor Patterson further stated that the needs are increasing daily, she’s seeing many more children, seniors, and victims of foreclosures, that she has five volunteer cooks that are ready to go full-time in preparing meals and that her parish is seeking a nearby indoor facility to be able to prepare and serve the meals in warmth and comfort for the recipients.
Of course, toys and age appropriate gifts are always great and appreciated but, kids are requesting BASIC needs the past two years which are NOT being met! If you could donate any of the following top 4 Santa requests, kids and parents alike would be grateful! (And, the kids could feel like other kids at school that don’t have to wear socks/shoes/underwear with holes in them!)
1. socks (if they need socks, they need underwear! They’re just too embarrassed to ask.)
4. food for families (please remember to donate Kosher foods)
Connect with children & Santa via the United States Post Office:
RandiRhodes.com: Letters to Santa
BeAnElf (great organization w/*excellent* resources): How To Be An Elf, and Other Great Ways To Be An Elf
Things you can do:
Sign the Change.org petition, urging national news media to begin coverage immediately of the donations shortages across the nation.
• Donate $$ and/or buy extra socks, shoes, boots, underwear, food, toys, clean gently-used jackets, etc. and drop them by your local:
⁃ food pantry
⁃ homeless shelter
⁃ organization(s) working with impoverished families
⁃ collection box
⁃ Social Services office (contact to ask)
⁃ Health & Human Services office (contact to ask)
⁃ Big Brother/Big Sister
⁃ Boys & Girls Clubs
⁃ Scouts organizations
• Adopt a local family and provide their list of needs
• Organize a drive with your church, book, gardening, etc. club
• Call your local radio, TV, and news media and ask them to cover the donations shortages
• Write letters to the editor(s) of your local paper(s)
• Convince local musicians to hold drives at their concerts like The Supreme Action League did at their album release party where they raised $65, two cans of soup and a new game, this past Saturday night. Every little bit helps. (SAL sings our #OccupyNorthPole theme song; It’s Up To Us.)
• Put your extra change in each Red Kettle you see
• Get involved in social media; Tweet & post to celebrities, news media, banks, corporations, etc.
• Participate in the <National Days of Action>: (I’ll post this in just a bit!)
• Sign/send on the <Change.org petition> re: (I’ll post this here in just a bit!)
Thanks for anything you can do to help our children and their struggling parents.
Friday I head back to Denver to document the distribution of gifts by the Christmas Toy Distribution by the United Way Denver Inner City Parish and visiting several food pantries and Santas over the next two days.