Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Presents and Christmas Cheer

Thursday Dec. 20th was one of the best days yet for Street Sense, and really reminded me why I’m doing what I’m doing.

It marked our fourth annual vendor Christmas party, which was bigger and better than ever. It was also the day our new t-shirts finally arrived (just in time for the party.) And that day the organization also received a long awaited grant of $10,000 from the Rapoport Family Foundation. (Yeah!) And the already fabulous day ended with the Homeless Memorial Day Vigil, where there was a huge turn out and a great and meaningful program.

But besides these milestone events, the day was just great because of the happiness, appreciation and excitement that most all of the vendors were displaying. (I hugged more vendors on Thursday then I have in my entire three years at Street Sense.)

Like last year, volunteers had “adopted” vendors and bought them Christmas gifts (of around $40 each) based off of lists that each vendor composed. And we also a about 15 pairs of boots (thanks to my wonderful mom) and 15 tote bags with socks, gloves and hats in the them (thanks to the International Science and Technology Association.) To give out to all vendors, even the new ones who had joined after all the Christmas lists went out.

And most all of the vendors were visible touched by their gifts, as many of them have not had a Christmas present especially for them in a long time. Don Gardner was thrilled with a new jacket he got commenting, “There is no way they spent just $40 on this!” Corey Bridges was left speechless opening up his multiple gifts including a sweat suit and some new gloves.

And it was also neat to be part of this energetic interaction as its rare we have nearly all of our vendors in one room at time. Many of them were talking about how Street Sense has helped them in different ways. Others were devising plans on how to improve sales, and still others were discussing ideas that would make great editorials.

One particularly memorable and touching moment for me was when longtime vendor Bobby Buggs decided to offer up a blessing before we ate. He began with the traditional thanks to God for food and friends to share it with, but ended thanking God “for bringing Street Sense into my life and the lives of others” and “for all that Street Sense has done for me.”

But the one comment that really got into my heart was something said in passing by a new vendor, Kevin Singleton. He came up to me to tell me how great the party was and how much he appreciated it and he said, “This party and everything is so great! I am so thankful I can be part of this – part of a family. Even real families don’t do things this nice.”

Though I have only received on two or three Christmas presents so far, I can assuredly say that this comment from Kevin is the best Christmas present for me this year….LAURA

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