Anyone who has been following this ministry, knows that Christmas is our biggest thrill. Did you know, however, that over the years we have developed some very particular traditions? One of them is our annual bag party. That’s right a bag party, and it does get somewhat raucous.
Ok, let me explain. You know that each of the bags of gifts we pass out each year has a label on it that identifies a special boy or girl. Have you ever thought about how that bag label gets on the bag, all 2,200 of them? This is a problem that plagued us for the first ten years of the Christmas Giving Program. Then, up steps Bob Gill and a multitude of his friends from SEARCH with a tremendous idea. Let’s all get together and have a party, and while we are partying we can put labels on the bags. In the first years, they only had to worry about 1,000 bags, but it grew to almost 3,000 bags at its peak. Some of the party goers have been doing this since day one and for others it’s their first time.
After twenty years of hosting this party, Bob retired and it fell to us to try to continue on with the tradition. For the past five years, we have hosted our annual BAG Party on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. This year had almost twenty people putting those pesky labels on trash bags. Don’t laugh, it isn’t as simple as it sounds. Just ask Joe Charpentier, who has the dubious jobs of trainer and policeman. He makes sure everyone knows that the label needs to go on the correct fold of the bag because if it isn’t, when we open the bag up, the label might just be on the bottom and you can hear Walter’s grumbling all the way across the parking lot. He isn’t a very happy camper.
At 4:00 p.m. the day of the party, Walter prints off the last of the bags for families that were entered that day and the team goes to work and within an hour every bag is labelled, tied up in a pack of 25 families and placed in a box that will be carried over to the shed. Then it’s good-byes all around, food is packed up and carried home by various volunteers and Walter and Kathy go home.
This is a tradition that we cherish, and one we hope to continue long into the future!
Also be sure to find us on Facebook at Urban Missionaries of Our Lady of Hope!