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The gift of love, Justin Bieber and inch-thick cookie frosting

By Melinda Mawdsley

There are not enough exclamation points to emphasize how much I love giving to others, particularly children, for no other reason than it feels wonderful, especially at Christmas.

But what happens when a 7 year old asks for “Justin Bieber?” This is what happens.

And, although I’m not really a listener of “Biebs,” I am a fan of children and showering them with love and happiness, even if that happiness is an 18-year-old pop star.

Thanks to The Daily Sentinel’s Jeans for Charity program, where the staff here pays for the privilege of wearing jeans on select Fridays, we collectively raised enough money to send several of us employees out on Black Friday and Saturday, Dec. 15, to Christmas shop for two families — two single mothers and their combined six children — through Hope of the Grand Valley, plus 10 additional children through The Salvation Army. So fun!

My shopping partner and I got the wish cards for four of those children and had $240 and a combined determination to give these children cool stuff. Not because stuff makes life better but because sometimes kids need cool stuff and the knowledge that people care about them.

Two girls wanted makeup. So that's what they get.

 

And if a 5 year old wants a bike, he’s getting a bike.

 

On Friday, Dec. 14, 20 children were killed in a school. It weighed heavy on my heart Saturday. I can't do anything to change the past, but I can shower love on people now and in the future. And the opportunity to share that love with others, particularly children, is one of the most amazing gifts of all.

BY RACHEL SAUER

I'm not, by nature, an optimist. Pessimism is so much easier, and the dark clouds of nihilism seem to gather much quicker than the sunlight can shine through.

Optimism is a choice, I've learned, and so is hope – a daily, often difficult choice made no easier on a path trod through a mortal, imperfect world. It's easy to feel alone, a solitary island in an unfriendly sea.

The only thing to do, then, is good. The choice to have hope is so much easier when I stick out my hands, beyond my own self-absorption and the selfish tangles in my head, and help. In doing that, I reaffirm myself as a part of the whole, a member of humanity who can shine a little light.

So, on Saturday, Dec. 15, while Melinda was shopping, I facilitated mayhem: a Christmas party for the children at my church. We did crafts — and I think sainthood is necessary for whoever invented glue dots – and played games and decorated sugar cookies. Heck, I told the kids, put more frosting on there; you're not going home with me, after all.

It was chaotic fun, as usual, and the kids — ages 3 to 12 — were hilarious. It was a delight, a sequin-spangled, popcorn-spilling, squealing-for-no-reason delight. And as the kids ran around, I was reminded: I'm a part of this, all of this, not just these children but people everywhere.

It was a John Donne moment, a no-man-is-an-island moment, because we're together. All of us. Inextricably linked, for bad and for good.

So, I extend a hand when I'm strong and accept one when I'm weak, and watch for the sun to shine through..
 

 


 

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I also like to make presents to the less fortunate kids during Christmas time and even though most of the times I end up in tears, they are tears of joy at seeing those kids happy because Santa didn’t forget them. This site is a perfect example for my shopping resources during that time of the year, it’s amazing how many things you can get there!

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