Every Year around Christmas time OFY receives some phone calls from individuals and groups who are interested in donating gifts for foster or adopted children that we serve. Every year, I find myself wondering how a donor happened to call us. Why OFY? We work with foster and adopted children. We have just begun working in Uganda where we will work with orphanages to help provide foster care and international adoption services for children living in poverty. Many other organizations do similar work and most, if not all, of us hope to make the world a better place. There are so many organizations for a donor to choose from, all competing for the donations that will help them make a difference in their world. How does a donor choose OFY?
OFY is a small organization in the “change the world” scheme of things, but those of us who work here are no less passionate or committed than the staff at big international organizations. Maybe the donors understand our passion, and that’s why they call? When I make a donation, I want to know that my gift makes a difference, even if it only makes a difference to a single family who can’t pay the bills this month, a homeless person who needs a warm blanket or a child who needs a meal today. I imagine that those who call OFY to donate want the same thing, to know that their gift makes a difference no matter how big or small it might be. Maybe that is why they call OFY, because they know their gifts make a difference here? What the donor doesn’t know is that the gifts that so generously come our way don’t just make a difference to the children and families who receive them. Those donations make a difference to me and to the staff at OFY. When a donor calls, we give a great deal of thought to the donation and to which of those we serve would most benefit from the gift. When the decision about the recipient is made and the gift is delivered, we share the excitement and joy that the family or child feels as they receive the gifts they are given.
Eliassen Group was one of those donors who called OFY this year. They wanted to provide gifts for children, and they needed some suggestions about what to buy. I tried asking the boys that were chosen what they wanted for Christmas, and they couldn’t come up with any suggestions. No gift ideas seemed a bit unusual for boys ranging in age from 10-12 years old. Maybe not so unusual for children who have never experienced Christmas the way I did growing up. My co-workers came up with some suggestions and the list was sent to Betsy at Eliassen Group so that she could pick out a gift to purchase for each of the boys. I can’t explain my excitement when the box from Eliassen Group arrived at my office. I opened it to find that not only had the company purchased one item per child, but everything on the list I had sent was in the box ready to be wrapped and placed under the tree! I shared my excitement with my coworkers who came to see the gifts displayed in my office, and we talked about how much we thought the boys would enjoy this Christmas. I can’t wait to hear about their excitement as they opened each gift.
The generous gifts and donations at Christmas and throughout the year that come from individuals and from companies like Eliassen Group not only change the world for those who receive them, but they also change my world. The opportunity to be a part of something special like giving to someone else reminds me why I am here, not just at OFY but here in this world. Maybe I shouldn’t need to be reminded, but in my busyness, I sometimes lose sight of why I went into the field of social work. I’m reminded that I am here to make a difference and to change my world, one life at a time.
OFY has received several donations again this Christmas season, and while I still do not always know why an individual, group or organization chooses to call OFY to donate, I am sincerely thankful that they call. I also know that the gifts and donations that are made to OFY as a result of those calls make a difference to the families and children who receive them, and they make a difference to me.