My involvement began in 2001, when we moved back to RI. I started out as a volunteer during Distribution Week - the whirlwind week when all the donors deliver the gifts they've so generously bought and also when the recipients come to pick up their gifts. Like all first time volunteers, I was awed by the sheer number of bags of gifts that are donated.
Oh, I can't forget Santa's Workshop. The AAF board members also shop the after Christmas sales and stock up on toys and clothes just in case they don't have enough donors and need to complete what they refer to as "in house adoptions". This year, not surprisingly, there were fewer donors and more recipients. So, the AAF elves were hard at work putting together donations for over 300 children (Sandy, please correct me if I've got the numbers wrong). It's a wonder to behold.
This year gifts were donated for 2,310 children in 1,118 families!!! That's about 100 classrooms full of children! But beyond that, the Type A part of my personality was impressed with the simple, yet effective procedure that makes the whole process run smoothly. AAF is a well oiled machine!
I still volunteer every year during Distribution Week, but since 2002 I've also "adopted" a child. And you know what? Shopping for that child is a complete joy. AAF provides donors with a wish list complete with the child's clothing sizes and needs and a few toys they would like to have. I love to imagine the face of "my child" on Christmas morning. I wish I could be a fly on the wall.
But beyond the joy of giving, I love working with the AAF board members during Distribution Week every year. And every year, I get tears in my eyes when I see that room fill up with bags and bags of gifts. And it doesn't stop for an entire week. As soon as some gifts are picked up by the recipients, more are dropped off. The generosity of the donors is astounding. It renews my belief in the goodness of people. For me, it's the Best Part of Christmas and one small way that I honor the 11th Commandment - Thou Shalt Not Stand Idly By.