So here's the story. I had signed up for Toys for Tots. I got the confirmation email back on December 14th at 8:56 pm. The pick up time was at 6pm on December 20th. I did try to contact them by phone and by email between the time I got the email and the day to pick up to make sure I had everything in order and would have everything I needed to pick up. I had a bad feeling about it, but I couldn't nail down why, I just had a bad feeling about it. Like I knew something was gonna happen and we wouldn't get them, but I still for some reason unknown to me now, counted on the damn gifts. So I did the responsible thing and I spent my husband's tiny little paycheck paying our gas bill to keep the heat on. I didn't even manage to get enough stuff to finish off our private Christmas dinner, but I did manage to get the stuff for our family dinner that I shared in the last post. Thankfully, I'd managed to get a ham at the beginning of the month or I wouldn't have that either, but that's another sob story altogether. Anyway, back to the story here...
The number in the email is not to the actual Toys for Tots organization, but to the church where the pick up was being held and only rang to a voicemail. I did leave a few messages, but they were not returned. I also tried the phone number that was on the Toys for Tots website (located here), but it would not go through. I have no idea if they have updated it at this point or not. I never got a response. So the 20th rolls around and I have spent literally every dime I've got on the gas bill, food and diapers for Phiz, and my husband has a friend that will take him there because we don't have bus fare for him to get there and obviously, if we don't have bus fare, a taxi is out of the question. When he gets there, he sees that there are literally HUNDREDS of people waiting, of course, because if someone is giving away something free, people here will take it if they need it or not. He gets his ticket and asks the man that hands it to him if he needed to bring anything with him and if he's ok with with he has. The man tells him he was supposed to have brought the kids, but that he'll be ok without them, they'll let him pick for the kids and it's fine. This is at 6pm.
He waits in the line until almost 8pm before he gets to the door of the church to get inside. Mind you, we do live in the desert, but it gets cold at night, we were under a wind warning and it was roughly 40 degrees outside so it wasn't a super fun wait, all I can say is I'm glad he DIDN'T have the little boys because Maxwell still has a horrible cough from the virus we're all still getting over. He gets just inside the door to check in and a very rude woman asks him where the kids are. He tells her he didn't know he was supposed to bring them, and tells her that the man that gave him the ticket told him he'd be fine without them. She tells him no, he can't go any further without the kids. He tells her we tried to find out what to bring, we just didn't know, is there anything they can do to help us because we are desperate. She tells him that the email said right on it what we needed to bring. I don't see where it says that...do you?
He tells her no, we looked at the email right before he came to get the address to get there. Then she tells him it's all over the website that he needed to bring them. I never found anywhere that it said that either. But she's yelling at him and he gets embarrassed, and he asks to talk to the guy who gave him the ticket. The one who said he was FINE without the kids there. The man tells him they'll let him go home and get the kids and come back. The problem with that is twofold, it's not our car, it's a friend of his and we don't have any more gas money to give the guy for another ride (because it seems like no one is a good enough friend to give a ride without gas money) and they guy doesn't have a vehicle big enough for everyone. Not to mention that they are still both sick and they'd have had to wait in the line in the cold again. We had to decline that offer. Declining the offer made them act like we had done something terribly wrong, like they couldn't comprehend that there are people in the world that don't have transportation of their own and have to rely on others to help them get places and sometimes those other people really aren't doing out of the kindness of their hearts but for the gas money we can give them. When you can't give up any gas money, people won't give you a ride. So he ended up just coming home empty handed and upset.
There are a whole lot of things I really don't understand about the deal. Now don't get me wrong, I understand that people take advantage, and that people steal. I understand that people take things they don't need and that ruins it for people that DO need it. I have no problem proving I have kids. I have no problem proving I am in need. I honestly wouldn't have had a problem taking the boys IF I HAD KNOWN I WAS SUPPOSED TO. But I didn't. And the way they treated the situation was deplorable. So they expected that while we were there with a hand out to accept charity, that we should bring our small children 5 days before Christmas so they could see that we needed the charity to provide them gifts. How nice for the kids huh? (yeah, that was sarcasm there) So the kids can lose faith in their parents and then lose their belief in Santa if they had it to begin with. Awesome job Toys for Tots. Thanks for nothing. I appreciate it.
I know the reality of this is that it is my fault. I shouldn't have relied on a charity to give my children the only gifts they were going to receive from us. I should have made better choices. Maybe I shouldn't have wanted to have a family dinner. Maybe I shouldn't have wanted to have heat in my house, maybe I should have Memphis potty trained by now, or maybe I should just have never gotten so sick I can't work anymore (but not QUITE sick enough to get permanent disability yet, go figure...though the 500 pound man down the street had no problem getting his check simply for being fat). I don't know. I do know that I had really worked hard to make myself try to put so many bad things aside to make this a good holiday season for my kids and my family. With so much loss in 2012, how could we not have a hard time still? This happening was hard on me. It'll be even harder on an almost 8 year old who will have nothing from his parents on Christmas. Now, I'm so lost and depressed about the whole thing I spent the entire day in bed yesterday. I alternated between escape sleeping and crying because I can't figure out how I'm going to handle Maxwell's disappointment... Toys for Tots...you can suck it!
Until next time...