Dang, it's been a while. Sorry, y'all! I got busy.
Mostly I've been busy shopping for a little boy I've never met, because my mom is on a mission to feed and clothe all the first-graders of Sampson county, North Carolina. Well, one classroom of them, anyhow. She has a friend who has a friend who teaches first grade, and every single kid in her class qualifies for free lunch (meaning their families are of extremely, ahem, reduced circumstances).
So my mom called me the other day and asked me to adopt one of her kids. He's got these skinny little stick arms, she says, and he needs EVERYTHING. Everything? I asked. Yes, she said, they come to school in the winter with no socks on, no warm clothes, no underwear. So I agreed, and sis agreed, and we set out to brave the crowds at Target. Buying this kid a wardrobe of warm clothes felt pretty good, I have to say. I really enjoyed trying to pick out stuff that a first-grader would think was cool. The best thing I got him was a big fleecy sweatshirt with this subtle but awesome flaming basketball shooting down one of the sleeves. It rocked - I kind of wished they had one in my size. Sis bought out the art supplies department so that each of the kids in the class could get something fun in their gift bag.
So Saturday my mom shows up in town to do some Xmas shopping and she's all fired up because her little project got a $100 donation. Wow, she thought, 100 clams! She could buy some shoes or toys or something for those kids. So she calls the teacher, who says, you know, none of these kids has a winter coat, and she's required to send them all outside for recess every day. They come back inside turning blue. What they really need are coats. Coats it is!
At that point my mom underwent a transformation into a single-minded fundraiser of ambitions that would put Jerry Lewis to shame. How much can we get 18 coats for? She settles on 25 bucks a coat and starts the fundraiser's equivalent of drunk-dialing everyone in her cell phone. She wrangles another $100 out of her sister, $30 out of HWWLLB and $20 out of one of my sister's friends. During this charitable frenzy, we're dining at a local salad bar (power lunch) and some friends of mine walk in. "You know them?" my mom asks. "Uh, yes." "Well, go ask them for some money!" So I do, and they empty their pockets. Another $20. My mom is still maniacally dialing as we drag her out the door and head off to a local shopping emporium.
mom and sis doing inventory. i know you noticed the little knit flower on her lapel. i'm not going to tell you who knit it (cough - me - cough).
In the end we spent 3 hours and a few hundred dollars, and scored a new coat for every kid in the class. Piled like pack animals with enormous bundles of nylon and polar fleece, we trudged through lines of hungry-looking shoppers waiting to purchase tokens for all the deserving and undeserving kids on their own lists.
This story has several possible happy endings, but the one that I'm most excited about was my parents saying to sis and me, let's not buy each other presents anymore. Let's just do what we can for people who really need it. We can each make each other something small if we want to. YES!!!!!!!!!! Now if we could just convince the grandparents, aunts and uncles, in-laws and cousins to go along with our plan, we'd be in business. And I'd only have to shop for deserving first-graders from now on.