Do you know what I think love is? Love is giving and expecting nothing in return. Love, is a verb that I saw in full action today.
Over the course of the past several weeks, the Just Jeepin’ for a Cause Jeep group has been collecting toys for the Marine’s Toys for Tots program. Collection boxes were placed in stores and restaurants that volunteered to house them and collect toys. Collect they did. The patrons of the establishments came through big time.
Members of the group would alert the others when a good sale had been located. Members alerted members to places to get the most toys for the dollar. And some stores, when they saw what was going on, stepped up for the cause. It was amazing and thrilling to watch this event falling into place. To see the collection growing.
To see all of the bikes that were donated. This afternoon, around or just over a hundred Jeeps gathered in the parking lot of a local mall. Most were decorated to some degree or other. Some had a wreath, some had a few lights, some were full out in the spirit. Each and every person there, wore a smile. The smile of excitement and joy. It was an amazing sight to see.
Row after row of Jeeps, people standing in loose groups, standing with family, walking among the Jeeps just to see. There were adults, children and puppies. Santa, the Grinch and a big tough Marine who we managed to get choked up. Those Marines, tough as nails until it comes to the kids. A spirit like none other to protect the country, a heart like none other for the innocent. They might just be Santa Claus.
When the time came to prepare to head out, the tough Marine, offered his words of gratitude, and a young man offered up a prayer for safe travels. A little child shall lead them.
Thankfully the Sheriff’s department had assigned some great guys to escort the parade of Jeeps from point to point.
It would have been more than difficult without them at some of those major intersections. It was such fun being a part of this. My son has taken part in motorcycle toy runs for the past several years, this was my first time. Excitement was my middle name. The first stop found us lining up for goodies and quick group photos. The second for bundt cake and a chance to spin a prize wheel for some goodies at a local restaurant. Back in our Jeeps and away again to the next stop. Each time was filled with smiles. From us anyway, not sure all the people we passed and held up for a few moments were smiling. But maybe, when they say that Toys for Tots banner, they couldn’t help but smile a little.
The next stop was a bit further up the road and meant that lunch was waiting. This stop took a bit longer, but that was fine. Everyone had a chance to eat, to mingle and to stretch a bit. There was laughter and shared moments of making new friends. From there it was to a sweet shop. Me being sweet enough (I’m joking) stayed in the Jeep (truth it is was getting cold) and waited until time to roll again. From there we hit the highway toward the next stop. Then up to my hometown and around toward the drop off point. All along the way, we passed people standing along the road side, standing in their yard waving and smiling. In the process of this toy collection, we were also giving so many something that had been taken from them, a parade. As we passed by with Jeeps decorated, some lit up with Christmas lights, many with some form of ornamentation, all with people inside ready, willing and more than happy to wave back. When we arrived at the drop off location and were parked we began unloading our Jeeps.
We carried toys into what was an empty warehouse. By the time we were finished, there was thousands of toys in that room. From an empty floor, to a small mountain range of gifts for the kids. The expressions on the faces of those watching us carry in armload after box full after hand truck load. As row upon row of bikes were lined up. That was a wonderful thank you. Imagining the expressions on the faces of the children, warmed the heart. So much so, that I never noticed the sun was going down as was the temperature. Today, I watched a miracle taking place. A group of folks who came together, to show love.