by Jim Crumpley

As time has gone on, we've gotten better-organized and Help Give Hope has run a lot more-smoothly. That has a lot to do with Murray and most of the time I am personally pleased that we get more done in less time regardless of whether it's shopping, wrapping, deliveries, you-name-it. But I have to say that some of the most heartwarming experiences we've had as a group have been those where everything was unscripted, unplanned and totally unexpected. This is one of those from-out-of-left-field moments.
All of you remember Sonny Page who passed away a little over two years ago after devoting hours of time to Help Give Hope over the years. Sonny was involved in just about everything we did - shopping, wrapping, deliveries - it would be hard to name something he didn't have a hand in. About fifteen years ago we had assembled our delivery crew and were in the process of loading our vans so we could get on the road. Remarkably things had gone fairly smooth and we were ready to leave on time. Sonny's extremely efficient delivery crew was stocked with just about anything necessary for a day of deliveries to include Bloody Mary's, cocktails of all sorts, beer, you-name-it. About the time we are ready to leave, Sonny says .."hang on, I forgot something." He runs back in the warehouse and grabs a huge stuffed bear, shoves it in Ed Gruetezemacher's lap and says "We may need this."
Somehow the bear got forgotten as the day - and the cocktails - wore on. At some point Wade's cell phone rings and it's Sonny saying we need to find someplace to drop off this bear and so to be looking for a likely place to do that. Purely by random we see this kid out in his front yard who appears to be about six and we figure he's as good as we've got at this point so why don't we just pick him? I need to point out that this kid was not one of our delivery victims - he was just some person out playing in his yard and I remember that it was a big yard. So when I start dragging this huge bear followed by Sonny and the rest of the delivery guys, practically everyone in the neighborhood could see what was going on to include said child playing in his yard. He was a little surprised to find Santa lurching toward him carrying this bear but he didn't panic - just stood there. I introduced myself - he already knew who I was - and asked him how he'd like a Christmas present.  He replied that that bear would be just about the best present he could imagine so we gave it to him and he thanked us profusely. By now his parents were out there and they seemed pretty choked up too. His Dad told me that he had taken the boy to the mall to tell Santa what he wanted for Christmas even though the Dad couldn't afford what he wanted. You are probably starting to figure out that the boy wanted this exact huge bear so he's now swallowed this whole Santa thing hook, line and sinker and I believe he'd have run through a brick wall for me at this point.  I also think his folks became instant Santa believers as well. Like I said, sometimes the unscripted stuff is the best of all!