Pittsburgh, Can We Save Christmas? #pghsavesxmas

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Earlier this week, The Girl asked me if I could help her find a charitable holiday project she could donate something to – be it time, money, or items. Something like a food drive, she suggested.

Shouldn’t be too hard, I replied. ‘Tis the season, after all.

But I got busy with work and our family’s own Christmas preparations, and The Girl had her Winter Concert at school, and we were ridiculously late for a doctor’s appointment  –  and all of that combined drop-kicked my daughter’s wish to Do Something Nice even lower on the priority list.

Until tonight, when I read a blog post from my friend Sue Kerr of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents about #pghsavesxmas. I’m reposting portions of Sue’s post below, with Sue’s permission, because I think it says exactly what I would have said and because tomorrow is December 20 and we need the word to get out about #pghsavesxmas ASAP.

Toys for Tots has been at the heart of holiday toy drives for decades. The Marines run this project and it is a bear – coordinating the needs of hundreds of organizations and thousands of individuals with a minimal budget, limited personnel and probably not a ton of training in social services. It can be amazing and it can fall flat. It is a logistics nightmare and I appreciate how hard people work to make it happen.

This year, something went wrong and 11-20 community groups in Pittsburgh did not receive their requested toys. The way it typically works is that the groups submit the names and ages of the kids sometime in October via fax or email, then receive a notification when it is time to pick up their delivery. They request this information to avoid duplication. The toys are repacked in large boxes by age and gender. It is relatively smooth if not necessarily predictable. It is exhausting and time-consuming and very very hard work.

Something went wrong this year and that needs to be sorted out by the powers-that-be. But in the meantime, hundreds of kids are going to not receive  a gift or gifts that their parents were counting upon. And that’s something we can address. Stepping up to the plate are Most Wanted Fine Art, I Heart Pittsburgh and several Pittsburgh bloggers.

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The Need – 2,000+ toy and gifts for children ages 2 months to 17 years – NEW, UNWRAPPED toys and gifts please (books, CDs, movies, etc. also fine)

The Organizations – Approximately 11-20 different community groups around the region

The Drop-Off Spots/Times – in addition to the location and times above, toys can also be dropped off to: 

Most Wanted Fine Art
at The Waterfront
210 West Bridge Street next to Panera Bread and Famous Footwear

Drop off times:
Friday-Saturday noon-9pm
Sunday noon-6pm

Financial or Online Donations:  I Heart Pgh has set up a Crowdrise Fundraiser. The money will be used to purchase gift items. This is not going through a 501c3, but it is being coordinated by well-known community advocate Lindsay Patross of I Heart Pgh among others who are well-known in the Pittsburgh blogging community. I completely trust the members of this group and know several of them personally. 

These holiday programs build relationships with community groups, relationships that can help year round. It is also important that we as a community take every opportunity to show that the lives of these children and their adult relatives matter to us. It isn’t what we get out of it or how we are acknowledged that matters. It isn’t up to us to figure out who is naughty or nice. It doesn’t matter if we get to see gifts opened or smiles light up faces.

What matters to us as the community is knowing that we are contributing to the social fabric that binds us together. We gain when we share with others without asking anything in return. Our hearts grow through the giving itself.

As luck would have it, The Girl and I just happen to have some Christmas shopping to finish up tomorrow …

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