In 1994, I joined a friend to read Dear Santa letters that were sent to the main post office in NYC. There were thousands of letters from children all over, addressed to the North Pole, asking Santa to fulfill their wishes. Letters that I read were not only from children, but parents and guardians in need of a helping hand. Countless letters from people writing to ask for help with all addressed to the North Pole. It struck me that many of these heart felt letters were sent with no expectation that they would be read. It was as people were writing to ask for help, sealing the envelop and sending their needs to the universe. I spent hours reading letters that day. I left with a few that I could fill on my own.
Since that year, I have been reading lists and filling them with the help of family, friends and campers. Together, we shop, wrap, and mail the gifts from Santa & Mrs. Claus. The biggest challenge each year is the limited time to fulfill the wishes. Holiday letters aren’t sent until December. But we always manage to get the wishes mailed and delivered just in to be placed under the tree Christmas morning.
It is quite an amazing experience and all who participate will agree that we get more out of the experience then receiving any gift during the holiday season. Last year the Camp Coconuts families fulfilled 108 Christmas wishes lists!
During this joyous season, I believe it is very important to help share that good time with children and families who may not be part of our Coconuts family. Each year, we fill Christmas lists of those who might just be experiencing some challenges. We have many families from New Jersey and New York, and right here at home in Middletown, who wrote letters to Santa looking to fill the wishes of their children and children that they know. The requests are mainly for toys as one might expect, however there are requests for clothing and life essentials too.
To me, this is a great way for us all to allow our children to learn and experience these things first hand. I see this as an opportunity to teach by example, and I know how rewarding of an experience this can be for you and your children. I do this yearly with Salvatore and Gia, and I get choked up when they read a Christmas list and really consider what color jacket, or style of clothing the child on their list might like. It's more beautiful than words can explain. I know you are all busy. So, all I ask is that if you have time you lend a hand - as you all know, I'll ask again next time! Last year together, we were able to fill 64 Christmas wish lists. We mailed 27 crates of gifts. It was a tremendous undertaking and there is no way we could have achieved this with all of you and all of our Coconuts pitching in, I was completely humbled by the generosity of our camp families. So this holiday season our goal is to fulfill 100 Christmas wish lists!
Here's how it works:
You can fill a Dear Santa letter, one wish, or make a small donation. If you would like to choose a child's letter we can scan a couple and email them to you for you to read, or give you an individual wish to fill. We will do our best to match up your children with letters from kids of their own age, so they can fully embrace the task, and feel they really contributed to the cause. Once you have your wish request, simply take your Coconut and shop for the gift, wrap it and drop off all gifts at I AM Fitness (205 Harmony Road Middletown, NJ 07748) by Tuesday evening December 19th.
If you choose to make a financial pledge, our team will use the donation to fill wish requests, ship and and we will do the wrapping.
Kids learn what they live. So, we hope you see this as great way to show your children how to have compassion for others who may be less fortunate themselves.
Please join us in giving the gift of Joy, hope, and dignity to children and parents this year!