Posted by: joshjasper | December 16, 2012

Mountain Moving

Our goal yesterday was to receive as many gifts as possible for the children and families that Riverview Center serves.  Digger and I met at FXB just after 6am to get ready for the first kickboxing class of the day.  The six-day a week fitness program does not call for kickboxing to take place on Saturdays.  This was extra.  Kip and Laci asked their members to attend an extra class yesterday to support our work by bringing a gift.  It was after all Kip and Laci that started the annual Riverview Center gift drive last year.

My job was to greet people at the door, taking their gifts to the Suburban that Chris let us use from Bird Chevrolet.  Digger was giving everyone a dry fit shirt that Tom at Envision Sports had printed for us the day before.  Kip was busy hanging Christmas lights from the ceiling and Laci was constructing the obstacle course.  At 6:30am sharp the first kickboxing class had started and the Suburban was nearly full already!  My plan was to participate in both classes, but because of the time it was taking me to load the presents, I ended up missing the first class.

Just as the first class was coming to a close, I received a message from Deb Hoffmann (Kip’s mom) on my Facebook page.  She was sorry that her and Jim weren’t there but made it clear that they wanted to support this great effort.  During the few minutes I took to thank everyone after class, I shared that Deb had committed to donating $1 for every person that attended today.  (she knew she was in for at least $150)  Incredible.

FXB holiday gift drive

In between classes I pulled out all of the seats of the Suburban.  We were running out of room…fast.  The second class came to a close, which was heck of a workout, and the Suburban was jam-packed with Christmas gifts for the children we serve.  Board games, puzzles, Barbie dolls, hot wheel cars, gloves, hats, and Transformers were spilling over into the front seats.  The middle console was stuffed with gift cards.  It was clear that I was going to be making multiple trips.

suburban gifts

Next up: Prep for the second phase of the gift drive.  I needed to get all of the gifts from FXB to the Eagles Club for the dinner we were hosting for the community.  Digger was at Carlos O’Kelly’s packing his truck with all of the food and Jenaleigh was at our office grabbing the Christmas tree, decorations, the karaoke machine, and everything else needed to make the party complete.

We all got to the Eagles Club at the same time and it was time to work.  Digger was dialed in.  He and FT donated ALL of the food.  They had enough to serve 200 people.  I knew enough to stay out of the kitchen and let them do what they do best.  I got to setting up the tables and chairs, while Abrey, Jenaleigh, and Coral carried in hundreds of gifts to place under the Christmas tree.  Isaac helped everyone carry gifts in, while taking some mental notes of what he hoped Santa would be delivering to him.  (I’ve got a feeling his letter to Santa just got a little longer from that experience)  While we were taking a cookie break, I shared with Isaac the reason we were all doing this and how it was going to help so many children, some of which have never had a Christmas in which they received presents.  He was excited to help.

It was just before 5pm when Keri from Finnin Ford stopped by.  She pulled me aside and shared with me that all of the employees at Finnin Ford wanted to help ensure that the children and families we serve had a Christmas to remember this year.  With that said, she nearly brought me to my knees when she gave me a check for $1,240!  I thanked her and tried to put into words what this was going to do for so many people.  At that moment I felt incredibly thankful for being a part of the work that I’m in.  I am afforded the opportunity to act as the middle man between people in need and people who want to make a difference.

check from Finnin

Shortly after that incredible donation, I heard the faint sound of a bell ringing from the front of the building.  As the bell ringing grew louder and a couple of “Ho Ho Ho’s” could be heard, every child in the room stood up and looked around.  Their eyes were wide open.  What they had hoped for all evening was about to happen.  Santa Jim had arrived.  I thought Isaac was going to push his table over and bowl over a few other kids on his way to see Santa.  Jim did such an amazing job.  I think he talked to every kid in the room last night….three times.  Kids lined up and parents started snapping pictures.  You could find the same level of happiness in the eyes of the adults as you could the eyes of the children.

Santa Jim

As dinner was coming to a close and karaoke was starting, I had the opportunity to stop by and chat and with Doug and Julie.  They were chatting with Quinn about why we are all doing this tonight.  Quinn was curious about how all of these gifts were going to get to kids his age.  He was also struggling with the fact that so many kids go without gifts during Christmas.  Quinn was struggling with what many adults struggle with in our community.  Many find it hard to believe that so many children could go without.  We had a great conversation.  I explained to him how he was making such an incredible impact for people he may never meet.  You could tell he understood and felt good about what he was doing.

The dinner was a huge success.  We served nearly 175 people.  Every person that came either brought a gift or donated money for the gift drive.  To be clear though, no one brought just one gift.  People were coming in with bags of gifts, gifts under their arms, and gifts that their children were carrying in.  People stopped by that couldn’t stay for dinner with gifts.

People stayed until 10pm.  Patrick sang some Piano Man and a number of kids (and Quentin) gave us some Avril Lavigne and Carly Rae Jepsen.  I think it was during Quentin’s rendition of “Call Me Maybe” that Susan came over sat down by me.  She told me she had a deal for me.  She shared how moved she was from the evening.  It brought tears to her eyes to see the presents under the tree, the kids talking to Santa, and so many people from our community together to support one another.  She told me that she had donated $25 at the door and she asked that I rip that check up.  She leaned over and gave me a check for $500 and said thank you.

After everything was loaded into the Suburban, and the Eagles Club was cleaned, Jon and I were talking about what had taken place in the last couple days. We were reflecting on the tragedy that recently struck Connecticut, the lives lost, and the community torn apart.  We got to thinking about what took place in our community in the last 12 hours.  Hundreds and hundreds of gifts had been donated.  A relatively small group of people were making a huge impact on the lives of so many.  We were forging relationships with one another that previously were not there.  A strong community was beginning to emerge, and within that community one belief was beginning to take shape.  People were beginning to believe that together, we could accomplish anything; that together, we could move mountains.

christmas tree

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  1. […] To read more about this amazing event, check out Josh Jasper’s Blog. […]


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