On Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., my colleagues and I donated our time, hugs and muscles to One Voice’s Holiday Drive, a non profit organization helping families living at poverty level to receive what they need for a Christmas meal, as well as toys and books for the children so that they can have presents on Christmas day.
At 8 a.m. we met at the Santa Monica airport and were assigned to a center in Compton in South Central LA, where we set up the different stations for when the families arrived to get their meal supplies and gifts.
As the hundreds of families started to arrive, I was assigned to what I called “The Great Wall of Turkeys,” where just an hour earlier we had put the 16-19 pound frozen turkeys into double wrapped plastic bags and lined them up outside in the shade. My job was to give the heavy turkeys to the volunteer “schlepers” (mostly guys) who were assisting the families through each station and carrying the items for them in big cardboard boxes. When a team of schlepers had their hands full, I’d carry the massive cold turkey out to the family’s car with them. At first it was fine, but two hours later, just lifting the turkeys to give to the other volunteers hurt. As a result, my arms were sore the next day and my hands were callused from the pressure from the plastic bags, but of course it was worth it. Nothing like manual labor and giving back to put you in the holiday spirit. I definitely left all the more thankful for what I have and happy to have helped others.
The best part of the job was giving hugs to the little kids. I’d pick up some of them up, much to their delight and swoop them around a bit in the air. When I opened my arms for one little girl, she ran from several feet away right into my arms and wrapped her legs around me. I almost kidnapped the cherub right then and there. Even the parents, were equally as happy to have a hug and exchange holiday wishes too. Some of the parents had tears in their eyes as they thanked everyone and were taking photos of their child with Santa. Some of the families had nine in total and the organizer at the center said to be classified in the poverty level means their household makes less than 7k a year!