Friday, December 30, 2011

The Last Few Weeks of the Year

It's been a while since I posted, but it's been Busy Times for Topanga Women's Circle and that's a good thing...right?  Could you say YES a little louder please because Karen and I need the encouragement!

Because it's a busy time for all of us, I'm going to keep this brief and picture heavy and set out like a timeline.

December 2:  Karen spoke to the kids at Topanga Elementary about just what it is we do at Christmas for the families we serve and helped kick off their toy drive for TWC.  Later that morning I got an email from Destiny London, a parent at the school, and she basically said 'Sign Me Up!'  Welcome new member, Destiny, and thanks for all your help so far.

December 4:  Ivy Mabius donated a super crib.  As always, timing is everything and we had just been contacted about a family at Westwood with a year old baby who needed a crib.  Thank you Ivy for the crib and the many other items you had for us!

December 5:  Sent out an email about a little boy at Bessie Pregerson who had hardly any suitable clothes who was often wearing his sister's things.  Asked for donations from our group and you responded SO generously.  Thank you to all who donated beautiful new and gently used clothing for Joshua.  You are truly angels.

December 6 and all week:  Starting hearing mumblings from Lissette at Westwood Transitional Village about new families...not a few family, but FAMILIES.  They wanted to move them in before Christmas.  Three of them.  Emails started flying, and power shopping ensued.  And not the Christmas kind.

December 9:  Linda heads down to the Bin for a pleasant Friday morning with Toni Colvig.  Lots of folks stop by which is great but yikes...we need to pull items for next weeks set-ups.  No idea where to put everything.  Then Mary Morley stopped by and stayed...for several hours!  She helped me pull items for the Monday set-up and I was never so happy to get help in my life.  A real lifesaver!  Thank you, Mary!

That evening was the Topanga Chamber of Commerce Christmas party at Bruce and Teresa's beautiful Tuscali Mountain Inn where TWC was honored with other non-profits for our work.  We are humbled by the recognition.

December 12:  Set-up, Westwood. POURING down rain.  Meet at Pine Tree Circle with new volunteer Destiny London, Nancy Hanson and Teresa Royer.  Karen was there as well to hand some items over and organize for tomorrow's set-up. Cars packed, we headed to Westwood, all of us dripping wet!  Had to make a couple of trips to Ross because sheet sets (packaged and labeled and brand new) were FLIPPIN' INCOMPLETE!  I won't share what I said.

December 13:  Set-Up, Westwood. Sunshiny day.  YAY!  Karen and I were joined by Isabel Freeman and Linda Mann and all went smoothly with those two experienced setter-uppers.  All went well except Karen and I had to put that crib together...with no directions.  We're both pretty handy but but this was challenging...VERY!

December 15:  SET-UPS, Venice.  Was it three or four?  Time dulls one's memory.  Karen and new volunteer Julie Rosendo went with cars loaded.  Without going into detail as it causes a spike in blood pressure, suffice it to say NOTHING was ready for them. The place was a mess.  Beds were not even there.  So they placed all the items for each family in neat little piles. This was a first set-up for Julie.  Now we need to let her know they're not all like that!

December 16:  Went to Topanga Elementary to pick up donated toys.  What a terrific group of kids.  My trunk was filled to the brim and there were many happy children at Venice Community Housing this Christmas because of the generosity of Topanga students.  Thanks to all the teachers, parent coordinators and fourth graders for their ongoing support of Topanga Women's Circle.

December 16.  Believe it or not, another Set-up at Westwood:  Karen, April and Mary did this one and we're happy to say, we have no more until the first week of January. We're awaiting the phone call and will let you know when we get it!

December 17.  Gift wrapping at Linda's.  Volunteers drifted in and out all day and we all worked like demons.  A friend of mine from Malibu and her high school daughter came for four hours and were an enormous help.  By 3:30 or so, Karen and I needed to stop.  After an 8:30 start, our backs and brains were finished, though we weren't quite finished wrapping

Lis Dupuy brought over a car full of personal products that the girls and teachers at Louisville collected for us.  It will stand us in good stead for months! It's such a luxury to be able to go to our storage bin and have shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste and brushes, etc ready for our families.

December 18.  Day of Rest.

December 19.  Karen and Paulette (and Angel) came over and we finished up the wrapping.  We had gifts for the last two children to go and we did it. What a good feeling. We then hauled everything down to the basement awaiting delivery later in the week.

December 21.  Load cars.

December 22.  We met up with Teresa Royer's group of elves who had a fund raising drive and purchased all of the gifts for the children at Bessie Pregerson at Westwood plus gifts for their siblings and gift cards for their parents.  What an amazingly generous contribution this was and it really made it easier for all of us to breathe this Christmas.  It's not too early to start thinking of who can help us next year with this toy drive for the 80 +/- children at this fabulous Child Development Center which serves some of the neediest children in our City.  After this, we headed over to Venice Community Housing's Transitional Living Center and dropped off the 12 big felt stockings (pictures below) which we'd filled with the absolutely terrific gifts donated by TWC volunteers and the children at Topanga Elementary. Because of your generosity, Christmas was a lot brighter for these children.

And finally, Karen met a young woman outside Trader Joe's one day last year.  She teaches at the Cindy and Bill Simon Technology Academy High School in Watts and she she had a non-perishable food drive for TWC.  Yes, kids from Watts gave all the food you see below to TWC. The picture doesn't do justice to the extraordinary amount these students brought in to share with others.  How amazing is that!?  I'd love to see some of our area private and public high schools do something like this so if any of you have high school students here's an idea you could suggest to them.  They could organize a non-perishable food drive at their school, collect the donations and deliver them to us.  It would be a terrific way for them to earn community service hours and gain a terrific feeling of satisfaction at a job well done.

All of these non-perishable foods are from the kids at Simon Tech!  AMAZING!

And finally, here are some set-up photos from December!

Hi April!

And finally...look at these beautiful gift bags for the kids at Venice!

And finally, Happy New Year to All of You.  
Karen and I thank you for all you do for the families at Westwood and Venice.  
Without you, TWC would be nothing.