Sunday, May 11, 2014

1/1/12 Anna's Books

Look what We did!   You, us, and some people who don’t even have access to this blog.
Brad and I decided to honor Anna this year by donating books in her name to local charities and/or support services for people who are struggling, financially or otherwise.  We’re new to this sort of thing, needing to look into potential recipients, not being completely sure of how to do it effectively, and not sure how the idea would be received.  But wow, received it was.
That picture was taken before all the books even arrived - still, doesn’t it look impressive?  We had, wait for it, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY BOOKS donated!!  Well over double what I thought we might.   Not only were so many super-receptive to the idea, sending a book right away, but many people donated several.  As a book lover to begin with, it was thrilling to have books arrive every few days in the mail, receive notice that books were waiting at work, and watch the piles grow.   More than that, deeper than that, was how humbling this venture was.   Every book felt like a hug.  Some were clearly meant to be meaningful to Anna’s loss, some were childhood favorites (who remembers Sammy the Seal??), many others were current favorites of friends and coworkers’ own children.   Some had a story behind them, some were representative of the interests or values of the givers.  ALL of them were fantastic.  I thought I knew most of the children’s books out there, but was delighted to learn about the Llama Llama series and nature-themed ones by Minnesota photographers and countless others.  One really fun one was a Peanuts Christmas which told the story in the character’s voices (as well as the written word) if you pushed a button on that particular page.  Peanuts music and everything - nostalgic, captivating, extravagant.  Brad and I spent quite a bit of time looking through them, reading every one we hadn’t seen before.
Thank you, everyone.  Every one.
Brad and I headed out on the 31st to begin distribution, but only got one stop in, as the others were closed on Fridays (go figure).   The one we got to was VEAP (Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People), located here in Bloomington.  It was a little weird, as we didn’t see any families there that morning and were instructed to “give donations ‘round back” to two older gentlemen through a large service garage door.   They were quite welcoming and enthusiastic about how the kids would love them, but it felt a little... underwhelming.  I think we hoped to see a bit more actively who the books would go to, how they’d get them, what new books would feel like for these parents and kids.   I almost immediately realized that wouldn’t happen unless I got involved.  (More to come on that.)  Donating to organizations like this feel the same as donating to Goodwill when all you’re doing is dropping things off.   That, and maybe more conversations with the people who work there, learn more about the organization than what I gleaned over the phone.   So this year we’re splitting the donations amongst 3 local volunteer organizations (the other two are in Eden Prairie and Golden Valley) and the Minneapolis Children’s Hospital, hoping to get a feel for where we’d like to focus our efforts in the future.
We are once again so grateful to you all - you remind us that we are not in fact alone during what is a lonely and difficult time, and you show up to say “We remember.   Anna was here, she is real, you love her, and she is missed.”   Which is... exactly the right thing.
Thank you.

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