Season of Ho-ho-hope!

Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless. -Sherry Anderson
The best part about volunteering is seeing everybody you help glisten with joy. Nothing can begin to compare to the feeling you have when you see that wonderful smile of gratitude on the recipient’s face (and, you can’t help but smile too!).   
         When volunteering for Pass It Along’s Season of Hope Holiday Toy Shop through Project Self Sufficiency, I got to meet each person I did something for.  In my opinion, there was absolutely no way to better this project. It was perfect. The atmosphere was spectacular, and I felt so welcomed and at ease while walking through the toy shop assisting the many shoppers.  Every toy imaginable was on display and every person went home with presents for their children to unwrap on Christmas morning.  Whether they are from Mom and Dad or Santa Clause up at the North Pole, more children will be waking up to gifts underneath the tree and smiling because of this event. 
I was shocked by the amount of people that were shopping with us on Saturday.  I had no idea there were this many families in need of help this holiday season.  A majority of the shoppers had just come off of a full day job, doing all they could to keep their families financially afloat. They were exhausted, but unable to rest.  I had such an amazing feeling in me while volunteering.  This was by far the most impressive project I have ever participated in.  If I had the chance to, I would have stayed all night.   
Although these people do not have much, they are still giving!  I met a wonderful man while attending to the participants.  He had a thirteen year old daughter, who was at home babysitting a two year old instead of attending the toy shop.  She had made a point to tell her dad that out of the four presents allotted to her she wished for him to use one on the young boy.  That was by far the sweetest thing I’ve heard.  It made me tear up thinking about how little they have and how they are STILL giving!  Another person I helped was a lady with six children.  She was beyond grateful for all the gifts she was leaving with for her children.  She was so kind and could not thank me enough for walking around with her and making sure she got everything she needed.  Everyone I helped had such a terrific attitude. They were all ecstatic to be able to give their children gifts on Christmas.  These people were the nicest you will ever meet. There was no way you could leave the place without a smile on your face.
Something as simple as donating a toy can do something so massive for another family.  Some people who are luckier than others to have more don’t always understand how much they can do.  The one toy that you donate could be the first thing on a little girls letter to Santa.  My experience today was mind-blowing and is something I will never forget. I am already looking forward to next year.
-Dani Dellamo, Pass It Along Volunteer 

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