This was, without a doubt, the most meaningful thing I have ever done. Don and I have participated in food drives and community outreaches in East St. Louis many times, but never was it more amazing than this.
The people we visited around the island were some of the poorest of the poor. They truly have nothing. So many without work (and no welfare system here), so many children who had no toys, so many families without food. There was such excitement when our caravan pulled into a community. Word spread quickly and children came running when they caught a glimpse of Santa driving his pickup truck.
Nidia had Santa's list, a book containing names of families in desperate need. In each community she had worked with a contact person in organizing this event and in working out a schedule. There were approximately 1000 bags of food distributed and in every community there were disappointed people whose names were not on the list. We felt so bad that we didn't have more to give.
The little ones were thrilled to get a stuffed animal to hug and love on and which could obviously double as a hat.
Stop number five was in the Swamp section of Coxen Hole. We were approached by people not on the list, begging for some bread or a toothbrush. Thankfully, we had a lot of bread generously donated by an island bakery. I was the tooth fairy at every stop, handing out up to three toothbrushes per family. I ran out of toothbrushes before we finished here. Some of the candy bags contained a child's toothbrush, but not all. I never before thought about toothbrushes being a luxury item, but when you have nothing, they are.
There's not enough room here to show all the photos, so here's a link to Picasa Web Albums where you'll find more pictures.https://picasaweb.google.com/jetgartner/FoodDrive2011?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCLCn7v_p68XqRA&feat=directlink