Operation Santa: Finale

Last time I wrote, I’d just picked up 8 special letters addressed to Father Christmas from some very deserving individuals [skim back 2 blog posts to begin at the very beginning of this Yuletide Saga]. It was then time for me to strap on my boots, crimson ensemble, and rouge my rosy cheeks to take on the most challenging role Hollywood and the World Over had to offer.

No, I didn’t actually dress up.

But I did have a Mrs. Claus in my roommate, G.

Even my fake persona has had more luck in the Love Department than I have. But I digress.

First, I made a list of all the kids and what they had specifically requested (if anything). Then, I checked that baby twice. Everyone was deemed well behaved (nice) and coal didn’t make the gift list this year.

Since there isn’t a Wal-Mart in Los Angeles that could confidently guarantee my safety and well being after dark, we headed to Target–the one at the foot of the Hollywood Hills.

What we found was more than a little discouraging in that the toy aisle had been sufficiently picked over and the merchandise was absolutely sparse.

Granted, this was only a few days after Black Friday, but one would think they would’ve restocked already!

Also, can someone tell me how a hunk of molded plastic costs so darn much?! The toys for the under 1 year olds are $30 a pop! What is Playschool trying to do to me besides rob me blind?

We skipped the electronics aisle altogether and went straight for the more traditional toys. Matchbox cars were on sale, some of the smaller lego sets were under $10 and we got a giant bag 15 mini-jars of Play-Dough. We also picked up some art supplies, puzzles, clothing, and toy dinos.

All for under $100. That’s less than $10 for each of the 11 kids, which, to me, is a mega deal.

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Now, I have to wrap the presents in festive wrapping paper, and load them into mailable packaging. When I get to the post office, I’ll pay the postage (they’ve given me the zip codes) label them with the number associated with the individual letter, and the head elf at USPS will slap on their mailing address.

Since I ended up saving quite a bit on toys by shopping discount and sale items, I think I will pick up a few more letters since the Post Office is constantly receiving them through Christmas.

I’ve heard from quite a few people reading my blog who were disappointed that Operation Santa wasn’t held at their local Post Office. It’s a real shame considering kids from all over write to Santa and some will never get anything in return.

Next Fall, I intend to start a fundraising campaign to get enough money to serve 100 children in my area.

Until then, I’ll invest in some reindeer and a wheeled sled (since the odds of a white Christmas in LA are fairly slim), and continue to live vicariously through the children for whom I am purchasing these freakin’ awesome toys.

Follow my blog by clicking the “CLICK ME NOW!” button to the right to stay up to date on my adventures!

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Operation Santa: Part II

See that little button to the right that says “CLICK ME NOW”? Do it.

In case you missed it, I just explained the basics of Operation Santa in the post right before this one. If you haven’t read it yet, the contents of this blog may be a tad bit confusing, just sayin’. Shuffle back a step and fill yourself in first.

Armed with the address of the only post office in Los Angeles that participates in the program, I hopped in the whip and headed to South Central…you know, the part of the city that’s notorious for gang wars, the advent of both the Crips and the Bloods, and the movie “Friday”, “Next Friday”, and “Friday After Next” (they really pushed that franchise past its expiration date).

Yeah. That’s where you gotta go to participate in this program.

Is it any wonder that they can’t get the fru fru people from Beverly Hills to come participate?

I journeyed to this fabled land of street crime in broad daylight; however, it’s reputation did have me a little nervous since, for all intents and purposes, I’m from the suburbs. The violence has dropped dramatically, I should note (although, if I hadn’t noted it, I could’ve kept you on tenterhooks wondering if I witnessed a drive by or a street pharmacy transaction).

I walked into what must be a USPS distribution center to a small room filled with Christmas decorations:

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Cute. Quaint. There were cookies.

I ate quite a few of them…which isn’t going to help with my half-marathon training. But I digress.

On each of the 4 tables, piles of letters addressed to Santa at the North Pole lay scattered. Some were obviously scrawled by small children, others were certainly written by teens and, yes, even adults. Apparently, there are a number of people who have heard about this program and wrote in with requests for their children and yes, even for themselves.

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Unfortunately, a majority of the letters were written for the sole purpose of requesting laptops, iPads/iPods/iEverythings, gaming consoles, and other assorted electronics that cost more than my monthly wage.

Not gonna happen, at least not from me. It’s surely a sign of the times that small children are more concerned with those types of things than a doll, train set, or a nice Christmas sweater.

There was one letter that specifically asked for on iPad, a bed, and money to pay for his Aunt’s cancer treatments. Oh. WOW. And I actually was lucky enough to personally put that one into the hands of a wealthy businessman who pledged to fulfill as much of that list as he could.

For myself, I decided to search for letters that didn’t automatically jump into the $200+ category. I ended up with 8 letters serving 11 children in the LA area. Here are some of my favorites of my bunch (all spelling, punctuation mistakes, and grammatical errors are original. I’ll cut them some slack since they’re children.) :

1) From Angela, age 8: “Dear Santa Claus! My name is Angela, I’m 8yrs old. May you come to my house, please. I do not want anything, except to see you. Please. To: Santa From: Angela Please give it to Santa at the North Pole”

CUTE, right? This next one tugged at my heartstrings like 2 Christmas elves playing holiday tug-o-war:

2) From Litzy: “Dear Santa Claus, How is your Health how do you feel by going around the world and seeing different places. I want my life to change in shcool and in my house, And I also want to fix everything want I did wrong. And I hope you read my card. Love Litzy.”

MAN, if that isn’t a letter filled with emotional baggage, I don’t know what is. How does Santa get through all of these without having an emotional breakdown?

I also picked up a letter from a 22 year old mother of 2 sons under 6 years old that requested those pesky electronic items. At the end of her letter, she acknowledged that those were astronomical requests, and that she would just like Santa to bring something for them.

One letter, written in black crayon by a little one named “Robert” asked simply for toys, clothes, and shoes.

Another little one wrote a letter with 20 very specific items including a a Lego girl set, a puzzle, 1 fake flowr, a La La Loopsy Roller Coaster, and lip gloss. I knew I couldn’t fill every single wish she asked for, but I would sure try to get most of her list.

So, it was off to Target for me! And that’s where I’ll begin Episode 3.