Do you remember the stories I shared with you titled Christmas Community Angels and Christmas Angels – 15th Year? Christmas Angel Joan Eisenhardt phoned me a few days after the giant Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare Holiday Gift Give-A-Way program to report on the results. She had amazing things to tell me, which means I have amazing things to tell you.
The first person in line at arrived at 1:00 a.m. the morning of Friday, December 12, 2014, for the scheduled 9:00 a.m. opening time. The second client arrived at 2:00 a.m. By 6:30 a.m. the line stretched around the building. They arrived by car, bus and on foot.
During the previous 14 years by around 2:00 p.m. everyone in line had passed through the gift room and walked away with their gifts in hand. The volunteers historically have had to deal with what to do with the left over gift inventory. There had always been more gifts than people. Some of the excess gifts were stored for the following year and some were donated to other charitable organizations. This year was quite different.
The volunteer staff felt panic set in when it became obvious they had more people than gifts. They were there to help the less fortunate members of our community. It was never their goal to add to their client’s disappointment by sending them away without a gift.
It was expected the gifts would run out by 11:00 a.m. Staff shared the bad news with the people positioned towards the end of the line, that continued waiting would be in vain. The people in line accepted the bad news with grace and dignity. All left peacefully.
In an effort to take care to the people remaining in line, Christmas Angel Kathy Sweeney made a mad dash for Fred Meyer using a last minute cash donation to purchase 100 thirty-five dollar gift cards. Even though the two gift rooms were completely wiped out, the Christmas Angels were able to hand out the gift cards to the last 100 people remaining in line.
It is both pleasing and amazing that every person in line behaved in a polite and civilized manner; even those who ended their day walking away with an empty Christmas.
- Problem 1: The program’s major long-term fund donor will no longer be able to participate in the program which in plain English equates to a money problem.
- Problem 2: Budget cuts at Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare will eliminate funds previously utilized to help support the program, which again equates to a money problem.
- Problem 3: Greater Lakes will no longer be able to store gifts because of expansion plans for new mental health programs, which equates to a storage space problem.
- Problem 4: Greater Lakes will no longer be able to stage the gift giving event in the Greater Lakes building, which equates to a space / venue problem.