I have a new love for the number 7. Here’s why:
At Community Partners of Dallas we do a HUGE toy drive every year to provide toys for all of the children involved with CPS. Truly, many of these children have never before received a gift. These kids have been told by those who are supposed to love them that they are stupid and worthless and ugly. They have been beaten, neglected, sexually abused, and worse. Holiday gifts simply aren’t part of these children’s reality. At CPD we want to change that. CPS Caseworkers find out what the children want and we print wishes (just like an angel tree) and send them out to donor groups and individuals to fill them and get them back to our warehouse for the big Distribution Day (this year it is today, Wednesday, December 15, 2010).
On Wednesday of last week, 3 days before our deadline to return gifts and wishes, we had 77 wishes returned (unfilled) by one of our donor groups. I know that 77 kids isn’t very many in the grand scheme of things – this is less than 2% of the total amount of kids that we will provide toys for and even the 77 kids who had their wishes returned will still get something from our drive – just maybe not what they especially wanted. And that is the problem.
For a kid who has been told he doesn’t matter, for a kid who has had her hopes dashed over and over again by adults, one single wish granted means something. It means that someone in the world listened. It means that someone in the world cared. It means hope.
So, for those 77 kids, we went into overdrive. You may have seen our posts on Facebook asking for people to take the 77 and fill them. You did. I did. My mom did. My best friend did. My friend in California who I haven’t seen in 10 years did. Within 5 hours, they were all filled and even more people were calling and were willing to give money to help us help our kids who never had wishes printed. Kids who were picked up by CPS today or last week or even last month, since the wishes were collected and printed in October.
We filled the 77. Or so I thought.
This past Saturday was the deadline for donors to bring wishes and undesignated toys to our Toy Drive Warehouse at Peacock Alley in Oak Cliff. We had tons of volunteers there to receive and sort wishes. Joanna Clarke, our Development VP, was standing at the warehouse dock door greeting people, bringing in loads of toys and more. A lady that Joanna didn’t know walked in and said “If I could give you a bunch of new bikes today, would you accept them?” Joanna asked the lady if this was a trick question and (of course) quickly said yes. The lady made a call on her cell phone and asked Joanna what the Peacock Alley Warehouse address was, hung up and asked if she could volunteer until the bikes arrived. Joanna set the lady up with a toy sorting job and they continued to talk. Turns out that the lady and her father started buying bikes and donating them to a charity every Christmas when the lady was a little girl. They started with just a bike or two and as the years went by, the number of bikes grew. This year, the large charity who had always been the recipient of their bike donation had turned them away. The lady had tried a couple of other well-known charitable toy drive groups and had been told that they had no room to accept her donation. So, the lady was just driving around in her car not knowing where to go or what to do next with her bikes. The lady didn’t even know where she was driving – she said she all-of-a-sudden found herself in an unfamiliar area, but then she saw our small little sign that said “Toy Drive” with an arrow pointing her to us.
Guess how many bikes the lady and her family delivered? 77.
When Joanna called to tell me this story on Saturday afternoon and she told me the number of bikes, I got chills. I explained to Joanna that 77 was the number of wishes returned unfilled earlier in the week that we had filled through our Facebook friends.
77. It was a message. You see, I know enough about the bible to know that the number 7 is thought to be one of God’s most important numbers. Some call it God’s divine number.
You remember that I thought that WE (me, you, and every person who donated) had filled the 77 returned wishes and all the rest of the gifts for 5,000 kids? By sending the 77 bikes God gently reminded me that He was the one who sent the bikes and filled the wishes.
That’s our Christmas miracle. Thank you for being part of it.