Kindness, random or deliberate.
Smiles, so simple, so beautiful.
I had a really special opportunity yesterday to accompany a few big shots from work to the Calgary Women’s Centre.
For the last seven years, they have reached out to the community for toy donations that go directly to The Centre. The week before Christmas, they round up a bunch of the managers to deliver the lot to the toy room, a separate space in The Centre where toys are organized by gender and age group.
Women in need can visit and shop around for the perfect gift for their child instead of being handed a preselected age-appropriate toy that may not be interesting for their son or daughter. In addition to the toy per child, the mom’s can pick out a stocking stuffer and one of the “family” toys like a board game or a ball. After the holidays are over, left over toys are kept for birthday gifts.
We donated close to 1,000 toys and over $1,300 for the staff members to buy additional gifts.
I was filled with warm fuzzies from the idea of the morning alone, but I then got a chance to speak to some of the staff members and volunteers. I listened to their stories, their excitement to receive our donation, and the struggles being faced this year.
I always had the same two questions: why do you volunteer? and what has your favourite memory been?
Most of the memories revolved around seeing the holiday stress melt from these women when they realized they now had gifts for their kids. All of the stories involved grateful smiles.
After we were all done, I walked the few blocks back to my house in the sunshine. I was thankful for taking part, thankful for those staff members and volunteers, and thankful for what I have. It was all so overwhelming. Once inside I began to weep. We’re not talking a tear or two, I was a blubbering fool. Sobbing out the experience; down my face and soaking my collar.
I often live in a bubble. I comment how I struggle, but after rent, bills, gas and groceries, I still have enough left over for Starbucks and presents. I crossed gifts off the list for mom, dad, Sister, and friends. But why haven’t I looked a few blocks away in my community to see who else needs me? I’ll be returning to the Women’s Centre with a few unwrapped toys next week. There is no way I’m even attempting Walmart on a weekend! I was a spoiled child, I know I’ll spoil my children one day if I’m lucky enough to have them, why not start practicing buying toys now?
To continue the spirit of kindness, I bought coffee for the man behind me in the Starbucks drive through on the way to the office. This one wasn’t a dating attempt, it was just a way to make someone smile, hoping they would want to pass it on. I may or may not have also told the barista to wink at the man. Come on, of course I did!