When I was a kid my dad was a pastor and every year our church was a partner in the local “Toys for Tots” drive. Our local “Toys for Tots” chapter, in our little western Kentucky town, was run by bikers. And when I say bikers, I don’t mean this guy:
I mean, this guy:
The bikers that ran “Toys for Tots” in our town were all ex-marines and they were rough looking dudes. Our church was (somewhat-progressively) Pentecostal, and was mostly full of people who look like this:
And those people about lost it when my dad, the optimistically-antagonistic young reverend that he was, invited the HEAD BIKER (who coincidentally was also our neighbor) to speak in our church on a very busy Sunday morning. You would imagine it going about as well as introducing a bear into a hen house, but you’d actually be wrong. It was probably one of the most impacting and meaningful services that church had ever seen. When Jacob’s dad (that’s how I knew him because one of his sons was my friend and I don’t remember their last name, if I ever knew it at all, and I was specifically directed by mother not to refer to him as “beardy”)… any way… when Jacob’s dad began to tell stories of the kids that they wanted to help and the terrible living conditions that they were forced to endure he began to weep. And then my dad did, and pretty soon everyone in the choir was, and by the end the whole church was running dangerously low on Kleenex.
But then there was me. I wasn’t affected by that presentation. I was kid for Christ-sake! I had little to be concerned with beyond was this gonna make me miss the amazing Baked Alaskan at the Executive Inn diner where we used to always eat after church. (I’m strolling down memory lane a little here, cut me some slack.) Ultimately, it didn’t and the rest of the week went on as normal. Until…
Wednesday came and we’d had a BIG “Toys for Tots” box set up in our fellowship hall. As you can guess, this is where the donations were to be placed if you had any. I felt that I did not, but my father felt differently, and proceeded to donate (what I feel like was a lot, but I was like 7 or 8 so in reality it probably wasn’t) EVERYTHING I OWNED!
I was devastated. This was the WORST DAY OF MY LIFE. What was I gonna do with out those Batman action figures and Sesame Street books? (He also gave away some of my comic books, so that I’m actually still a little bitter about and may never forgive.) But guess what? Christmas came, and I got more Batman toys, and more books, and more comics. It was a good Christmas for my brother and me.
One day I was playing at a friends house in our neighborhood and I noticed a couple of books that looked like ones I used to own. I peeked insdie the cover and sure enough, there were my initials on the back of the cover. “Wait a minute… you mean not only do these ‘needy kids’ exist, but there are some of them in my neighborhood and they’re my FRIENDS?!” This was a preposterous concept to me. The idea of “needy kids” was hitting close to home (literally, like, around the corner).
Fast forward to a few years ago. I had “lost” my job (they didn’t actually lay me off, they just cut my hours to, you know, NONE AT ALL. I may still be bitter about this as well…), and my wife and I were not certain what kind of a Christmas we were going to be able to provide for our son (we only had the one kid at the time so the other two will only know endless spoiled holidays). We were scared and embarrassed of where we were at that point in our lives. Luckily, we had an amazing support system of family and friends (some of them even write with me on this very website!) who were there for us and did whatever they could to help us through a rough Holiday season. If I thought this “family in need” concept had hit home BEFORE… now it was really hitting home. The very minute things began to turn around for us we started looking for ways to sponsor kids in need of support. Whether it was helping a kid go to camp who couldn’t afford it, or donating to toy drives and random families in need, we knew what it felt like and wanted to reach out and help in whatever way we could, just like people had done for us.
This brings me to the purpose of this article…
It’s no secret the we here at 4LN are big fans of Comic Collector Live and the CCL Store… which is why we want encourage you to check out their 2013 CCL Marathon Toy Drive. If you follow that link, it will take you to the official page for the toy drive and Steve from CCL explains all about it and how it came to be.
We strongly urge you to check out the drive and help out in any way that you can. There are a lot of kids out there who need to know that they’re loved, and thought about around the holidays because they may not have much, or they may be stuck in a hospital with very few gifts because medical bills can be a real… well, you get my point. You never know who around you might be in need so please consider supporting this awesome cause!