My “Why”…

I was talking to a fellow business person at our Chamber of Commerce meeting this morning about next week’s KOIN6/ Impact NW Toy Drive, and how we are cooking a big Italian dinner for the families and kids that come in for toys on December 14th.

After I told her all about it, she asked me an interesting question. “So, why did you choose to work with the toy drive?”

I’m sure she was expecting me to say that we’re doing it for the kids, or because we feel a ethical or spiritual responsibility to give back (and both of those are true), but they’re not my reason why.”I do it for my Mom,” I told her.It seems that most of the focus during the Christmas season, especially at an event like the toy drive, is all about the kids (and that’s a good thing!), but as a daddy myself, I can’t help but think about the parents, too.

As terrible as it seems, to think of a child waking up on Christmas with nothing from “Santa”, how much more terrible must it be to be that child’s parent?

How crushing and desolating would it be for a mom or dad, already (obviously) in a tough place, to wake up on Christmas morning without a single gift for their child to open?

You see, one December, about thirty-five years ago, my mom and I were in a tough place. Recently divorced, a glitch in the welfare system had temporarily stopped my invalid mom’s meager monthly allotment of food stamps and disability coverage, and we were broke…I mean, living on nothing but boiled potatoes and government cheese, stoney broke. (I know some of you have read this story, bear with me.)

My mother was getting up every morning not knowing what she was going to feed her child that day, of if the power would be turned off that day, or, God forbid, if I’d get sick and need cold medicine, or something.On top of that, Christmas was coming and there was nothing. Nothing.Then, just a couple of days before Christmas, someone, at someplace very like the ImpactNW Toy Drive, gave my mother a small box of toys, a roll of wrapping paper, and some scotch tape.

They weren’t fancy toys. In fact, they weren’t even new toys…but they were something. Something to wrap and put under the tree, something to see her child run out early Christmas morning, laughing and excited, and tear into. What someone gave my mom was a gift far greater that whatever I unwrapped that morning, they gave her a glimmer of hope, a momentary lifting of her flagging self worth, and maybe even a little whisper from above saying, Hey Betty, I haven’t forgotten you guys…

I owe someone for that. To pay-forward what someone did for my mom.

That’s why I do it.

So, I encourage you, whether you want to be a part of what we’re doing with ImpactNW and KOIN6 (and, yeah, I’m gonna hit you up for that in a second), or whether you have a local church or community toy drive, or even if you just know a neighbor or co-worker who’s in a tough place and maybe needs a little whisper from above… pay it forward.


It doesn’t have to be expensive; it doesn’t have to be fancy…believe me, I know.

Now, if you DO want to help us with the ImpactNW Toy Drive, you can use this secure link to make a charitable contribution towards the meal. We’re cooking at the event on Friday for sure, and again on Saturday if we can buy enough groceries. Donations can be made via a PayPal account, or with a credit card (no account required).

I personally guarantee you, every penny we receive will be spent on the meal, and any extra will be donated to ImpactNW to buy additional toys and gifts. If you include your contact information with your donation, ImpactNW would be happy to send you a tax-deductible receipt for your donation, as well.

If you can’t give much, I totally understand, every little bit really does help.

If you can’t give anything financially, I really do understand that too…and ask that you would give the most important gift of all…please pray for the families and children that are in need this season, and ask God how you can help.

He has something for you, trust me.

If you’re local, and would rather donate a new, unwrapped toy, please contact us at hautemealz@gmail.com, and we’ll make a plan to pick that up from you before December 14th, or get you the location of your local drop-off.

Here’s ImpactNW’s Wish List:

FINAL ImpactNW_HolidayStore2012_WishList_v1

Thanks for reading, and please share!

-Chef Perry