Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Toys For Tots

I look forward to this day every year.  I get a quick email in my inbox a week ahead of time.  A quick note to let me know to get ready.  I look forward to this email, and make grand plans.  This year, I am going to go all out!  Most years, I forget my original plans in the hustle and bustle of everyday.  A quick cash donation, whatever I have in my wallet.  A trip to the ATM and a bagel to make change.  Even if I forget my original plans, I am still pleased to help. 

I look forward to this day every year:  the day the Marines will be at Union Station, collecting toys for children in need. 

I posted last year about the overwhelming generosity of my fellow commuters.  Over $25,000 raised in a single day.  This year, the Marines will be collecting for two full days.  I can't begin to imagine the difference they will make in the lives of children this year.

When I read the reminder email this year, I made my usual grand plans to actually buy a toy.  And then I worried I would forget again.  So I went to the ATM in advance to have my cash ready.  Then I remembered: they sell toys at the grocery store.  I go to the grocery store every week.  I added "TOYS FOR TOTS" in big letters on my shopping list.

This year, I was prepared.  I had my Cars action figures in hand, ready to give to a smiling Marine.  And then I saw the first Marine, just as I stepped off the train, a bucket in hand to collect cash.  I saw another.  And another.  The platform filled with smiling, uniformed (hot) Marines, ringing bells, singing carols, smiling and welcoming the charity of commuters.  This year, I was prepared with my toys.  But I was not emotionally prepared.  I burst into tears as I handed my toys over to the young man who has devoted his life to protecting mine.

Last year I was overwhelmed by the generosity of my fellow commuters.  This year I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the young men and women in our armed forces.  Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!