Monday, January 19, 2015

Kony Country

This year we started a new tradition that I hope we will be able to enjoy and participate in for years to come. One of the local radio stations, Kony Country, runs a program called Kony Coins for Kids. During November and December little clear boxes can be found at almost every cash register in every local grocery store, Wal Mart, Home Depot, etc. These little boxes can collect shopper's change and/or cash donations. On several different occasions when I was paying with cash I let the kids drop our change into these boxes and tried to explain what was going to happen to the money collected.   

 On a Thursday night a week or two before Christmas I took these kiddo's to a specific Wal Mart. We were given a clipboard with 3 children's (siblings) names, ages, needs and wants listed. Each child had been allotted  a total of $75. We were then to go "Christmas" shopping for these kids. Each child needed a warm coat, socks, under ware and shoes. To me these are necessities. It was really hard to think that these items would eventually be wrapped and put under their Christmas tree.  What child wants to open up a package of under ware at Christmas? Madelyn helped choose for our 10 year old girl. Emily helped choose for our 7 year old girl and Brayden helped choose for our 5 year old boy. We had fun. We were able to shop a few clearance racks and by their necessities and still get some fun toys for each of them.  

It was fun but I won't lie it was bit chaotic. It was like shopping on Black Friday but with 4 kids in tow. (Hunter had an orchestra concert this same night and had to be their early. I knew there was no way we could participate in both and have him there at the required time. So he stayed at Grandma's who helped get him there when needed.) The store was crammed pack with people. I thought we were playing it safe by heading to the shoe department first but being everyone else had shoes on their list there really wasn't a place in the store that wasn't cram packed. We survived though. It took a bit longer than I had anticipated but we did good. (I still made it to Hunter's concert with 15 minutes to spare.) We all felt good at what we had put in our cart for these kids. When we were finished we took the cart to the front of the store. An associate then took our cart and clipboard and we were able to leave. Later that night our cart would be checked out. All the items would be put in a giant bag so that they could be wrapped the next morning. 

As we were leaving Wal Mart we noticed a trail of U-Haul trucks. Apparently they used these to transport all the items bought to the St. George center to be wrapped. One of the associates told me that at the end of the night Kony for Kids would write out a check for about $100,000 to Wal Mart.

The next morning we dropped off the two littles at Aunt Hanna's. She helped get Brayden to school for me and then watched Kylie. The older three kids and I ran into St. George once again to help.   

We walked into a massive room. About half the room was full of set up tables. Each table had scissors, wrapping paper, sticker's and ribbon, etc along with a bag or two of gifts needing to be wrapped. The other side of the room was full of chairs. Each chair was assigned to a family in need that held their gifts.  
We picked a table and then opened each bag. We then separated the gifts, made sure each child had about the same amount of gifts and then started wrapping. When they were all wrapped up we put them back into our large plastic bags keeping everything together. Our first family only had 2 small kids. It was relatively easy to do. When we were done we had to raise our hands high. Someone would then come pick up our bags and give us another family to do. Our 2nd family came with  4 huge bags. It was a family with 6 kids. This one wasn't too easy. We just didn't have enough room on our little table to separate everything. We borrowed a few chairs from the back of the room and when they were full we used the floor space. It seemed like it took us forever to get this families gifts wrapped. But we did it! When we were finished with our 2nd family we had to stop and return to our own life. Kylie needed to be picked up so Aunt Hanna could get to school to take a final, Hunter had a math test he was trying to make it back in time for and Madelyn also had a test she was trying to get back in time for. 

It was fun to see how the process went. I'm sure some of these people from Kony pulled a few all nighters. They were so organized and on the ball. It really was well planned out. We felt very appreciated in the help that we were able to offer. The wrapping started at 8 am and continued until everything was done which is usually about 2 pm. The following night volunteers gathered again and dressed up in Santa suits and Elf clothes to deliver families gifts. One year I would like to participate in that too. We will definitely do this again next year. Madelyn specifically asked if this could become a new tradition. We didn't just participate and then forget. Come Christmas morning when we were finished opening our own gifts one of the kids brought up the gifts we bought for those 3 kids. We talked about what we had picked out and really hoped that the kids enjoyed what they were able to open. 

Next year to make things a bit easier to wrap we will bring boxes to wrap clothes and shoes in. Not enough was donated this year for all of us to use.