2011-12-20 / News

Santa stops to fill his sleigh

It was only 8 a.m. when volunteers arrived at the North Pole Annex. My wife dropped me off a few minutes later and we all got on the elevator as I started to present the PLAN.

We are going to load Santa’s sleigh with a systematic approach. Load the cargo that gets delivered last on first. Load the second delivery town next, and place the first delivery point on the tail of the wagon ( sleigh) last. Sounded like a sensible plan we all agreed, and that’s what we did.

You have to picture a thirdfloor starting gate, then an elevator ride to the first floor, and two automatic sliding doorways at the entrance of our facility. With more than 800 large and small cartons all going into a 24-foot cargo bin, and utilizing a crack team of retired movers, we did this thing. It was amazing that we got the first load off and on its way within 90 minutes.

Now, not everything went as planned, I’ve been told. It seems someone forgot to tell our wagon master that delivery number one was actually loaded on as number two, and load number one was in the way of delivery number one. Do you get the picture?

But my volunteers took it all in stride. They are all good friends you know, or at least were up until then! Oh, and one volunteer who shall remain nameless, was waiting for the sleigh at an undisclosed location that only he knew about. Not to worry though, we have asked Santa to bring him a shiny new GPS for Christmas, so it doesn’t happen again.

But now as I write this, everything is on its way. The men and women who have worked to make this program a success are my heroes. Thanks everyone!

I mentioned to you in yesterday’s column how quickly time has passed. Thanksgiving was gone in an instant, and December is almost a blur. We moved into a brand new facility right after Thanksgiving. We chose the Access Self Storage facility after visiting several potential sites. Not sure of the logistics of a totally different environment, it took a little more planning. But I must tell you, it worked out better than I could have hoped. And the people at Access were marvelous to us.

Samantha Sucidlo, the property manager, made sure our stay was enjoyable right up to our departure. And her assistants MerryLee and Bill were perfect hosts. We truly enjoyed our stay and we want to express our sincere gratitude for allowing us to set up shop at your facility this year. And please thank the ownership of your company for their generosity. Offering such a gift was truly in the spirit of Christmas. Thank you Access Storage of Topsham and may you and your families enjoy a Merry Christmas.

Each day at the Annex was always exciting. New merchandise was being displayed every day. Some of it came from you, some of it was part of the original order, and sometimes it looked different just because the volunteers put it in a different room.

My morning walk through the aisles gave me a chance to see our progress. It was always a pleasure to greet the team at their stations. Often times they were anxious to share some of their ideas that helped them the day before. I was always ready to listen. If it helped them it helped me.

And when I got to the business office — I like to call it the nerve center of our operation — the coffee was ready. You might have seen photos of our office volunteers last week. They keep me informed with the latest information so I can pass it on to you.

The time passes quickly and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It isn’t really work, but a labor of love. We all enjoy it and we don’t complain too often, and the job gets done.

When we returned on Monday, we were joined by additional volunteers who knew we were not equipped to load the sleigh by ourselves. I want to thank Mike Eastman, Dudley Leavitt, Rick, Mike Murphy, and Rod Talbot, for stopping by. Your help yesterday was a blessing to the rest of our team. We couldn’t have done it without you guys.

All these people who gave of themselves made it enjoyable for me. There was never a dull moment during the entire time. I guess that’s what made the time go by so quickly. And my nightly visits at the computer to keep you informed, filled my day from morning until it was time for bed. I am not complaining, just explaining why time flew by. It was a blast and I have no regrets. A little tired maybe, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

We have to thank the employees at McTeague and Higbee of Topsham for all the toys and art supplies they donated for our kids. They couldn’t have come at a better time. We were looking for just such items at this time. Thank you so much.

I have to tell you this little story. I was having lunch with some volunteers at the Elks lodge. Someone paged me that a young lady was at the door and she had a donation to deliver. She was carrying three bags of knitted and crotcheted items from the Halcyon Yarn Co. of Bath. The company donates yarn to people who like to knit and crochet. The finished products are then donated to charity. In this particular instance, it was given to the Santa Claus Fund for our kids. There were 50 hats, 20 pair of mittens and five scarves in the bags. We ran short of mittens and hats this year because of the higher than usual volume. We are going to add these mittens to our latest recipients because there were no mittens left. What a timely and wonderful gift for our kids. Thank you Halcyon Yarn for your kindness and generosity.

We did receive one envelope this morning with a donation from June and David Dorion for $100. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Dorion. Adding the $100 to our total, we now stand at $32,446.

We are so thankful for everyone’s generosity this year. Even in tough times, you have found it in your hearts to share the Christmas spirit. I can’t say it any better than that.

Good night all, I’ll be back tomorrow with an update and maybe a story or two.

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