While Christmas morning is still two days away for most, I had the same giddiness of a child on Christmas morning yesterday. Nine of us loaded two SUV’s and a van full of gifts for the children and started the hour long drive to the hospital. Once there, we unloaded by the hospital unit and began the delivery.
I was fortunate enough to make the first trip upstairs with the Unit Supervisor. As we entered the double doors, the kids were all seated around tables they had covered in tablecloths in anticipation for our arrival. It was clear they had prepared for special guests. I was not but 2-3 steps inside when in unison they all yelled “Thank you Mrs. Rafferty!“. One boy threw his arms up and shouted “Hallelujah, it’s finally Christmas!“. I don’t know who had waited longer for this moment, me or them. One of them came carrying a card they had all worked on making. It is the most beautiful card I have ever received and it will forever hang in the project Believe office.
We unloaded our cart of gifts and then did something torturous… told the kids they’d have to wait. They saw the stacks of boxes all containing wrapped pj’s and scarves, the Christmas stockings full of candy, and the project Believe gift bags full of wrapped gifts and were… well, like kids on Christmas morning! You could feel their anticipation while they grew more and more curious about which was theirs and what was inside. There were still more gifts to deliver, so they patiently waited.
After dropping gifts at the other two units, we brought the rest of the project Believe crew upstairs where the kids again shouted “Thank you!” and asked if they could do something for us. We were prepared to entertain them, but instead we were in for a real treat and perhaps the best gift I will get this year. They had a choreographed song and dance for us! Tables and furniture were pushed aside, the boombox plugged in, and all of the kids stepped out into the hall so they could make their entrance.
They came in and took their places with their backs to us waiting for the music to start. Once it did, that’s when the magic really began. You could see the pride in every kid as they sang their hearts out and interpreted the song through dance moves representing things like strength. It was a perfect song and a perfect performance! I tried to just smile and not look around because I knew tears were streaming down my face and was sure the rest of us were experiencing the same feelings. It was absolutely beautiful!
When they finished we gave them a much deserved standing ovation. One boy came running from their ‘stage’ and hugged each and every one of us. I was reminded again THIS is what it is all about!
They never once concerned themselves with what we had for them, but instead they kept wanting to give to us! There were more songs and dances, including one about how God has not forgotten them. Truer words have never been sung and we were able to show them there are also people in this world who have not forgotten them. For the last number, they had us stand up in a circle holding hands and showed us a song taught to them by a group from an orphanage in Uganda. It was a beautiful example of paying it forward.
At the end they had us all huddle with our hands in the middle while one person counted to three so we could yell ‘P-2 North!’. We were overwhelmed with the sense of family they had allowed us into for the day. After some hugs, high fives, and fist bumps we left them to have Christmas in private with their gifts and promised to be back.
We were then invited onto the unit of teenage girls where they had already opened all of their gifts and just wanted to thank us. It was priceless to see the smiles on their faces and the joy of just knowing there were so many people thinking of them.
After we left, the nine of us all stopped at a local coffeehouse and the ideas started to flow.
What’s next for project Believe? BIG BIG things! Stay tuned…
~~~ believe ~~~
~~~ believe ~~~