It had been a couple of weeks since that Thanksgiving. Marty had met another 12-year-old named Jimmy. They were a really cute couple and I could tell they really cared for each other. Eric and I were cuddling on my bed when they entered our room.
"Mal, Eric… Jimmy and I have a great idea for what to do for Christmas."
"Well, tell us!" Eric and I said in unison.
Jimmy took up the description, "Well, I was taught that Christmas was more about giving than receiving, so… we thought we might get a bunch of smallish presents and dress up as Santa's elves. Then take those to the local children's hospital and give them to the kids there."
I immediately thought it was a great idea. The problem was… what do we do for money to pay for all these gifts?"
Each of us tallied how much money we had, and I was sure we were going to fall far short of what we'd need to do this. Marty then asked, "Why not ask our parents to help?"
"No, I think I have a better idea. Everyone, get dressed to go out, we're going to the mall."
Twenty minutes later we were at the mall. I led the group to one of the bigger toy stores and asked to speak to the manager.
A burly man came out and asked, "What can I do for you guys, today?"
I will admit I was a bit nervous, but I pushed past it. "Sir, this year for Christmas, we wanted to do something for others who are less fortunate. We want to take a bunch of toys to the children's hospital to bring joy to those kids. Our problem is, we don't think we have enough money."
"Well, we may be able to do something for you. Let's sit in my office and discuss it."
The four of us went into the man's office. Thirty minutes later, we left with smiles on our faces. He had agreed to allow us to spend 4 times the amount of money we had, the rest would be a donation from the store."
When we got home, Dad asked where we'd been, so I told him what our plan was. He was impressed, especially when I told him it was Marty and Jimmy's idea.
It was now December 14th and we wanted to deliver the presents on Christmas Eve, so we had some planning to do. Me and Eric would arrange things with the hospital and Marty and Jimmy would go find Elf costumes for us.
Marty took off with Jimmy while me and Eric sat at my desk with pencil and paper to outline what needed to be done. Our first task was to contact the hospital.
When we finally got through to the right person, they were excited that we wanted to do this for the kids. They gave us some guidelines as to what types of presents they'd allow and an idea of how many kids and of what gender there were at this time. They reminded us that things can change on a moment's notice, so we should plan accordingly.
Currently, the hospital had 78 kids. 52 boys and 26 girls. We decided to see if we could buy 90 presents. 60 for boys and 30 for girls. This would allow us a few extra of each gender. Any that were left would be left at the hospital for new kids when they came in.
I called Mr. Perry, the store manager and told him what we needed. He assured us that he'd have everything ready for us on December 22nd. He was also going to have each present wrapped in colored paper, so we knew which gender each gift was intended for.
This was seeming to be too easy.
Marty and Jimmy came back with four Elf costumes. They said that the man at the costume shop, whose name was Fred, told us that he knew Mr. Perry at the Toy Store and after talking to him, he decided to donate the use of the costumes at no charge. Honestly, I hadn't even considered the fact that we might have to rent the costumes. Once again, luck seemed to be with us.
Over the next week, we really had nothing to do. I felt really good about what we had planned. Eric and I got closer. Marty and Jimmy got embarrassed one evening when we came into the room catching them making out.
December 22nd came, and we went to the toy store. Mr. Peters showed us the boxes of toys. When we asked him how much we owed, he simply said, "I spoke to the owner of the store and he decided to donate all of them. He felt that you guys were doing something that most kids today wouldn't even consider, and he wanted you to keep your money as a reward."
For some reason, I didn't feel right about that, so after we thanked him and loaded the toys into Dad's SUV we headed for home. I explained what I was feeling, and the others agreed. We had planned on spending about $400. So, what we decided to do was to donate that money to the hospital.
We got dressed in our Elf costumes and were on our way with the toys to the hospital. When we got there, we met with our contact who escorted us to the proper place. We put the toys in big red velvet sacks that had been provided by the hospital and started going to each of the rooms where the kids were.
When we entered the first, we were shocked to find a news crew and camera. We ignored them and went to the first boy. He looked to be about 8 years old. His name was Timothy. He was elated to get a visit from four of Santa's official helpers and a present to boot. He reached up and gave me a huge hug and said, "Thank You!"
This went on for the rest of the evening. Each of the kids tore at my heartstrings. We talked to some of them at more length than others; my heart was soaring by the end of the evening.
When we were done, we were asked to go to one of the conference rooms. There, Mr. Peters, Fred from the Costume Shop, the President of the Hospital, and our Mayor were present, along with the news crew. They interviewed the four of us, asking what made us want to do this.
When we explained that it was really what Christmas was about, I felt a sense of pride. The big surprise came when we were just about done, I went to the Hospital President and explained that when we originally had this idea, we weren't sure we'd have enough funds to make it happen. I explained how Mr. Peters had agreed to discount the toys, but when we went to pick them up, he said that the owner had decided to donate all of the toys, just like Fred from the Costume Shop did with our costumes. I explained that we didn't feel right about some of it and felt that the original money we were going to use should be donated to the hospital. So, I handed him a check that Dad had gotten for us at the bank.
That night, we watched the news and saw ourselves on TV. That was pretty cool. But not as cool as the feeling we had making Christmas meaningful for all those kids.
Marty was going to be staying at Jimmy's house tonight, and Eric was staying with me. That will give me the chance to give him his ‘special' Christmas present… but that's our business.
To each of you out there reading this, I wanted to wish you the happiest of holidays and a very happy new year. You never know, Easter is coming in a couple of months… you may hear from us again!