Sunday, December 12, 2004

Holiday fun

Sunday afternoon. I had so much fun yesterday! In addition to my always exciting brow grooming appointment, I volunteered at the Voices Holiday Party in the afternoon. I talked to my mom afterwards and she pretty much summed up my feelings when she said, "that's what the holidays are supposed to be about."

Hundreds of happy children with their CASAs and/or foster parents got to have fun, win prizes, get cool gifts, and meet Santa for three hours in the warm, southern California sun. I worked in the "Snowman Eating Contest" table. Kids took two mini powdered donuts and one mini powdered donut hole, stacked them on top of each other like a little snowman, and then tried to eat all three, as fast as they could without using their hands. The child who finished chewing and swallowing first - yes, we required proof of clean mouths! - got six tickets, the second got five, and so on. Tickets could be redeemed for some pretty cool prizes at the end of the day. Other games included Bingo, jewelry making, sack races, an obstacle course, and a football toss (you had to get it through a little hole in a canvas). We enforced a strict "no more than once an hour" rule at the Snowman booth and thus avoided any powdered spewage, although we did have to turn several kids away because of nutritional/medical concerns ("if your CASA says it's not OK then it's not OK").

Each child got a present that had been chosen for them, and it was fabulous to see all of the little girls pushing their new dollies in their new dolly prams and the boys driving their remote control Hummers. Additionally, all of the books that had been donated at Barnes and Noble before Friday were also laid out on a table for the children to choose from. I was checking out the "Santa room" where the books were (along with Santa and all of the wrapped presents) when a young boy I'd talked to earlier came to the table and started looking at the books. I asked him if he liked adventure stories and, when he answered that he did, I told him that "Treasure Island" would be a good choice. He smiled, took the book, and walked away. A few seconds later, he bounced back over and said, "thank you" before bouncing back over to his place in line for Santa. He was just the kid I was imagining when I bought that book, and I'm so pleased that it's gone to a good home.

In contrast to nearly every kid I've seen in the last ten years, these kids really appreciated the party, the people, the food, and the gifts. They were polite, happy, and fun - nothing short of a miracle, in my opinion, given the lives that they've led thus far - and they gave me tremendous hope and excitement for the future. Next year, Alcott and I will be there, hopefully with all of his siblings and their CASA (my friend and fellow Snowman herder, Genevieve). I can't wait!

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