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A Christmas Story of Giving

Trina Sonnenbert writes her heartwarming story about how her family was personally affected by Toys for Tots.


A Christmas Story of Giving
by Trina Sonnenberg

Oh, about seventeen years ago, I was spending Christmas as a newly divorced, single mother. I was 26 years old and my son was three. I worked two jobs, just to afford to live in a housing project, in a very scary neighborhood. I had no Christmas tree, I had no money, I had no gifts for my little boy. Not one! Talk about depressing…

Thank God for the U.S. Marine Corps. and a very special friend with a very special family.

That year I stood in line for several hours, waiting to pick out a gift for my son. I was not in a mall or toy store – I was in a public library, standing in line to receive a gift from Toys for Tots. I was happy to stand there, no matter how long it might take.

I met some terrific people in that line. I heard stories of divorce, of unemployment, and of poverty, but everyone I spoke with was happy. No one seemed to be willing to let their financial circumstances ruin the season for them. Having walked in their, feeling wretched, I left feeling on top of the world.

When I got home, I pulled a letter out of the mailbox, sent from a long time friend and mentor. Inside the envelope was a letter and another, smaller envelope. The smaller envelope contained a check and $200 Toys R Us, Jeffrey dollars. The letter explained that every year, rather than buying gifts for each other, they pool their money and send it to someone who needs it. She knew I’d gotten divorced, and what I was going through at that point in time, so that year, her family chose me.

The whole thing brought me to tears. It also brought me to my knees in thanks. Just as I was drying my eyes, a knock came on the door. The guy I’d been dating was standing in the hallway, with a plastic Christmas tree he’d found discarded.

I then realized that just when I thought I had nothing, I had everything. I had people who cared about me. I had toys for my little boy, and a Christmas tree to put them under. Everything I had, I had because people cared about me.

Christmas is about giving. The people that I met that day gave me a new attitude; they taught me something. They shared their cheer with me, and accepted me even though they didn’t know me. The Toys for Tots donors gave me a gift to give my son, and the volunteers gave me their time, to see that I got that gift. My friend and her family gave me their love. Instead of giving to each other, they gave to my boy and me.

Christmas isn’t about who can rack up the highest credit card bill; it’s about making someone else happy. And gifts of yourself mean more and are remembered longer than anything you can get from a store.

Help Yourself By Helping Children . . .
The 9th Annual Internet Toy Drive!!

Saigon Kids and American Community School are *proud* to be a partner with the official U.S. Marines “Toys for Tots” program in The Ninth Annual Internet Toy Drive. It’s a sad fact that millions of children in the United States will NOT have a single gift to open on Christmas Day! We aim to change that and make sure EVERY child has at least one present ‘from Santa’ under their tree. Help a needy child in YOUR community right now!

Do Your Heart Some Good Right Now!

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