I've been privileged to be a part of the Holiday Family Adoption Program for many years. It's a highlight of the holiday season for me, and to be honest, a highlight of the year. It's easy to be cynical, particularly in my line of work. You look for the angle, for the motivation, behind actions. You remember that a good tool of a journalist is a healthy dose of skepticism.
This holiday program throws those notions out the window.
Area families, clubs and businesses give of themselves, with no expectation of anything in return -- no publicity, no accolades. They give for their own personal reasons, and they give from the heart. This year they ensured that 85 area families have a merrier Christmas. Isn't that what this season is all about?
Volunteers return year after year, giving up weekend time during the hectic holiday season. Some, like Ron Bauermeister, my "box king" spend hours independently, doing what has to be done to make the program work seamlessly. I so look forward to seeing these veteran volunteers year after year. When the Spencer volunteer firefighters roll in on delivery day, their smiles and good-natured joshing bring Christmas to my heart as quickly as any carol.
And our partners at U.P.S. are heroes. Donating their trucks, with drivers taking a Sunday afternoon to do what they do all week long, this time as volunteers, they are a vital member of the team. With the busiest week of the year upon them, you'd never know it. Many of these drivers have donated their time for decades, not years, to bring Christmas joy to those in our community.
We had some new volunteers this year, and I hope they enjoyed their time helping out as much as we enjoyed having them. Betsy Schoelerman, FFA advisor at Clay Central/Everly High School, brought some students to assist with gift drop-offs; several 4-H members, including members of the Clay County Youth Council, lent a hand as well. We had new drivers to man some of the out-of-town routes, traveling our county roads to bring holiday cheer to those throughout Clay County.
Anita Jorgenson and her staff at Upper Des Moines Opportunity are the center around which so many different holiday giving programs revolve. Acting as clearinghouse, facilitator, and den mother of our program, Anita cares so much that these families are served.
Mother Nature smiled on the program this year. While delivery day has brought us snow, ice, wind and frigid temperatures, no one there on Sunday remembered a delivery day as gorgeous. While a white Christmas is a romantic notion, 50 degrees and sunshine sure makes delivery easier.
Now that our holiday family adoption program is complete for another year, I can take a deep breath, send up a prayer of thanks, and turn my attention to the holiday hopes of my other family -- the one I live with. Being involved in the Holiday Family Adoption program is a gift to me, one that fills my heart and puts so many things into perspective. I stress less about the little details of my family Christmas -- after all, we have plenty of food in the pantry, some gifts under the tree, and most importantly each other. Everything else is gravy.
As we prepare for Christmas, I want to thank everyone who gave of themselves to make this program a success. And I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.