Growing up, we didn't do much volunteer work at Christmas time. We put more efforts into volunteer work throughout the year than we did at Christmas, mostly through the fire hall. I grew up on Garlow Road in Niagara Falls, NY. We lived in the Town of Lewiston and my father was a volunteer firefighter at Lewiston #2 Fire Department for many years. The entire station was volunteer based, and still is.
We also tried to help people out as the need arrived. The winter of 1977, our last in Niagara Falls before moving west to Tempe, Az, was especially trying. There was a huge blizzard that year that not only closed down the schools for weeks, it closed down the entire city. Advisories were released pretty much banning non-rescue persons from being on the streets. A family we'd known experienced a major pipe freeze and burst in their home, and we were able to take them in for a while. I remember how stressed my mother was, what with her own three children plus the two children I think it was, that the family had. But I also remember her saying that regardless of how stressful it was for us, it was more stressful for the displaced family.
The clinic where I work participates in the Toys for Tots (TFT) program every years as a distributor of gifts to families in need. We are only able to distribute to the families who use our clinic but we refer to community agencies for those we hear about that need the help but are not our families. It's such a worthy cause, and it's so simple in theory.
In recent times, however, the TFT program has really been hurting. Last year our clinic had 850 families signed up for the program, but the program was only able to provide a few hundred toys. Our clinic is fortunate to have a generous Board and a very generous philanthropic foundation, Square and Compass, to assist and we were able to provide for the needs of our families. My father purchased several toys last year and took them to the local fire station that serves as a collection site for Toys for Tots. I wish I had been there to see this; his telling of his "adventure" was precious and I know he was proud to be part of the program. And to drop them off at a fire station, well, that was just icing on the cake!
This year we have over 1,000 kids signed up, and our Board and foundations will once again assist in meeting the need. If you have similar programs near you, please sign up for either it or other similar programs to help elderly people have some surprises at Christmas.