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Written by Lizzie Mayer, Project Manager Operation Santa
“They’re here!” called up the front desk. I grabbed my coffee, a box of black garbage bags, and walked downstairs. Fifteen eager “Santa’s helpers” waited patiently in the lobby for their volunteer assignments. They were staff from Guild Education, a mission-based company headquartered in Denver that helps working adults go back to school in partnership with large employers like Walmart, Chipotle, and Disney, who foot the bill for their employees. Tennyson was their organization of choice for a corporate Give Back day.
Their job? To clean, organize, and sort toys and help us get ready for an exciting new year of Operation Santa, our annual gift-giving program for the 250 plus kids and families we serve.
“You’re going to get a little dirty today,” I said. “But what you are doing is HUGE.”
Over the course of three hours, our basement storage room transformed into a magically organized place, ready for amazing gifts and toys to be tagged, stored, and wrapped for the holidays. To think – how much joy these items will bring the kids! It made me – and more than a few others – tear up.
We unearthed some incredible finds. An electric s’mores maker, a toy drone, even Hungry Hungry Hippos! There was a feeling of excitement in the air as we imagined the kids and families opening these gifts and more over the holidays.
Some of the kids receiving services at Tennyson live on campus as they stabilize from challenging home lives and histories of trauma or abuse. Many are between foster care families or lack supportive family structures. Some have nowhere else to call home, as they are wards of the State. For them, Christmas simply would not happen without the generous support of our community.
Other families we serve do not have the means to celebrate Christmas. One family with fewer resources, who spent Christmas together for the first time with gift donations from OpSanta, cried and expressed deep gratitude for making the experience possible.
I was reminded that morning of the power of small acts of kindness and generosity. These were Guild Education employees taking time out of their busy days to give back to Tennyson. Sleeves rolled up and ready, they were “all in.”
It was an incredible way to launch Operation Santa – and reminded me that we can all do our part to make our communities a little bit brighter.
Click here for more information about Operation Santa and the ways you can get involved.