Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Angels and Athletes

Being at the Olympic Training Center allows for many opportunities to help out in the community, especially around the holidays. Not to say that there isn’t always opportunity no matter where you live, but here its organized and as easy as possible to be involved. And I love it. I love being reminded about what the holidays are really about and what our focus should be. First and foremost, it’s about celebrating the birth of Jesus. Of course. But the gift giving seems to always take center stage. To be honest, I don’t enjoy gift giving at all anymore. It stresses me out. I have to figure out who to buy gifts for, what I am going to get them, how I am going to afford it, what I will do in that one instance where someone has gotten me a gift and I have to come up with the lamest excuse as to why I’ll give them theirs two days after Christmas…it’s all just a headache and not much else. I certainly don’t give presents to get them, but it still makes me feel bad to get when I haven’t given. So I try my best to make it work on the shoestring budget I’m afforded.

Last week I wrote about an event that I attended that paired athletes with kids in the community and helped them shop for Christmas gifts for their families. All in all, it was a great event. I must say, however, that I probably wasn’t totally honest. I was definitely happy to help out and I felt it was a worthy cause, but I felt there was a bit of a disconnect with the child I was assigned to. For starters, she wanted to shop for expensive gifts. Now, the point of this whole event is to allow kids from the community who come from disadvantaged homes or may not have the opportunities to purchase gifts for their families the ability to do so. But when she wanted to buy blu-ray DVD’s for her dad and expensive games for Nintendo wii for her sister I was a little skeptical. In order to buy those DVD’s and games, one would assume you already have the proper equipment to play them on, right? Before she had finished with her immediate family she was trying to score herself a sweater for school. And the kicker was when she pulled out her Blackberry curve to show me she had the same phone as I did. Ok. I’m no genius but those Blackberry’s aren’t the free phones they hand out with a contract extension. Beyond that, she just seemed really bored and uninterested. I was starting to feel as if my own financial circumstances qualified me more for the shopping spree than the girl I was assigned.

So I was a bit skeptical when I went to a very similar event this week that paired athletes from the Training Center with foster kids from the community. Luckily I ended up feeling like I truly helped a young girl have a much more enjoyable holiday experience. These kids were encouraged to shop for themselves, namely for clothes that they probably really needed. Well this is right up my alley…I can shop for clothes all day long! My new friend Desiree was excited to find some jeans that fit, an outfit to wear to her school dance, and an awesome new Charger’s jersey (she’s a big fan of L.T.). I realize that none of these events are about me at all, but I was happy to leave this one feeling as if the holiday spirit was right where it was supposed to be.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your blog hit home with me, i deal with what you have witnessed everyday. student whose parents cant afford to buy them paper and pencil, and say they cant afford to give their children the best education, yet as you say.. they all have blackberries, WII, Nintendo AND Play Stations, and wear more expensive shoes and clothing than i do!!! Im always trying to figurre out..who is underprivlidged ?? it might be me!! smile

Dana said...

WOW!!! I just about hit someone in ATL traffic from laughing when I read "she pulled out her Blackberry curve to show me she had the same phone as I did". I know, I know...I shouldn't be reading things on my BB while driving... =) But that was HILARIOUS!!

Christy said...

You know, this has been a pet peeve of mine for years. I spent about four years working in the not-for-profit sector and while I loved it oeverall, things like that really got to me. I think perhaps even moreso than most people. When you work in that industry, you truly do see the poorest of the poor, so when you see other people (such as that little girl) getting things that don't seem needed, it gives you cause to pause. It also makes some people weary of giving, which isn't good.

BTW, not only is the Blackberry Curve expensive - if you use all of the features, it's about a seventy-five dollar a month plan. I got rid of mine for just that reason - and I make a pretty good salary. I just saw it as wasted, unnecessary spending. But I blame the parents, not the child when it comes to that.

the Gamelord said...

Being the Scrinch (half Scrooge, half Grinch) that I am, your situation with the first little girl has just reinforced my cynicism in regards to what has become the "spirit" of Xmas. The Blackberry remark had me rollin'!LOL It also made me wonder did her parents pick her up in the Benz or Lexus? With gas prices being what they are, I'm sure they only sent their "needy" daughter to the event to help offset fuel costs over the holidays.

Kids from 1 to 92 have become so caught up in the materialism associated with Xmas, I often wonder do folks still remember that the day is really about goodwill toward your fellow man/woman and the birth of Jeezus.:-) Who, like myself, is a Capricorn.

I am really glad you got the opportunity to help a child who actually deserved it. You are an athlete who is truly an angel.

Happy Xmas and a Merry New Year to all, or something like that.....:-)

t.v. said...

The birth of Jesus is the greatest gift ever given, and it didn't cost a thing.
The best things (gifts) in life are free. You giving your time is a gift I'm sure Desiree appreciated and enjoyed.

Wondering if the girl you wrote about last week wasn't on "a shopping assignment" from her dad and her sister. lol.

I'm curious as to how they select the kids that get to take part in these activities.

Anonymous said...

I'm a needy Older kid...and with the economy going downhill I’m constantly on edge with worry of the affects it will have on me and people around me...I’m watching every penny just in case I have to worry about where I’m going to get money for rent and other bills.

I think a lot of the experiences stem from how they see people around them deal with money. If they know the value of a dollar and know how hard it is to earn a living they would be more incline to make wise choices.
The first girl is probably one that was taking advantage of the good fortune she had in being selected. While the other is just happy that someone cares enough to focus on her and allow her to have things that she may not have been able to have.

I have a job and work hard but if someone said here is an apartment come live for free I would much rather use my hard earn cash on something frivolous because I don't have to worry about big bills.
Whereas now I can't bring myself to buy a really nice expensive Louis Vuitton bag (the Alma MM) because it's about the same price range as my rent for the month and I can't live in a bag.
So I’m stuck with Coach, the LV Speedy and Nine West because that’s all I can afford and I’m just grateful that I am able to save my pennies and still be able to buy a bag that I’ll get bored with until I find the next bag to fall in love with a couple of months later.

Sorry for drifting to my on issues.

Observer said...

To Anonymous...

"stuck with coach..."???

I don't think that you can really understand what it is like for people who don't have ANYTHING when you can claim to be "stuck with Coach." I am not saying you should feel guilty about spending some of your hard earned money on something nice for yourself once in awhile, but please do not claim to be "needy". There is a big difference between what you want and what you need. There are millions of people out there who truly don't have the things they NEED to live and survive.

Brianna said...

maybe it was a knockoff coach?!?

:)

k. carli said...

LOL @ Bri's comment about the knockoff. That's classic Bri. You always find the funny in everything.

Thanks for sharing your experience and your true feelings about it. This type of situation turns people away from helping the ones that truly need just that, help. I'm really sorry that a more deserving child who really needed the shopping spree did not get the opportunity because for whatever reason this little girl was chosen.

Glad your second event left you feeling much better!

KT

Bianca said...

You're stealing my place as the holiest of bomb squad!

Stop it ;)

Anonymous said...

I think you're a good person.Why don't you try the Jack Lalane juicer?

Daniel said...

LOL! The Jack Lalanne Power Juicer!
"Wholesome Goodness!"
Ms. Glenn I smell a product endorsement.
But would you then be "juiced", and fail an "out-of-competition" test?