Yesterday I got to volunteer at the annual party for our local Mental Health and Mental Retardation office. Somewhere around 350 clients attended. It was a huge collaborative effort, with many volunteers and donors. My mom was responsible for the gift collection and wrapping effort. She got more than 500 gifts put together and transported to the party. Leftovers went to the MHMR office for homebound clients. Mom and Dad worked the entire party. My kids and I helped with set-up and food and gift distribution. It was a pretty cool family affair.
* Seeing creativity kick into action when, almost an hour after they were supposed to arrive with food, it was discovered that the caterer had the wrong date for the party. Said caterer was harangued to bring food ASAP, and in the interim, Mom and Dad and a neighbor acquired 40 bags of chips, many jugs of salsa, and paper plates and bowls to tide over the hungry and restless clients. For some clients, this would be their only meal of the day.
*The Flyin’ A’s, a singing duo who kept order and made what could have devolved into chaos when the food was two hours late into a party atmosphere. They really were heroes, playing for more than four hours without a break, and staying until the end. The party was supposed to end at 1 p.m., and because of the food snafu, ended after 3 p.m.
*Seeing the volunteer crew leap into action to keep clients orderly and fed as quickly as possible. There were long-time volunteers and first-time volunteers, and every one of them busted their butts. It was impressive!
*Helping my kids to understand their social and moral obligation to others. Together we wrapped 90 of the gifts over the last few weeks, and yesterday they helped decorate the party hall, diligently put bread on every plate, and joyfully watched the gift distribution. They didn’t complain even once. I was very impressed.
*Watching my 6-year-old daughter dance with Santa after the gift distribution. The two of them boogied down on the dance floor!
*Interacting with the clients. I was so happy to be able to serve. To know that my efforts were helping to bring a little joy to their day was just awesome. I had fun talking to them and bringing them food and gifts.
Hope y’all are enjoying the season!
Tags: Christmas, Christmas party, MHMR, volunteer
Thanks for the wonderful summary of the annual mental health holiday party. Your kids were outstanding volunteers — made even more remarkable by their young ages! It was rewarding to see the volunteers swing into emergency action to continue the upbeat party atmosphere despite the food delay. The mental health clients really appreciated everyone’s work. There were many thank yous and few complaints. For many, it was the only holiday event and gift they receive.
I have always been so impressed with your mom’s commitment to this! It’s so wonderful that your immediate family is truly doing its part too! (And, holy moly, on the caterer!!)