For our service group, it was crucial to see the children one last time before the winter break, and what better way to do that than holding a small Christmas party for them?
Financially, our service was in a rut. We are a fairly new service and only had one fundraiser through the bake sale. Before this spontaneous donations collection, we were too focused on gathering money and buying gifts personally. We planned an in-school dance fundraiser, but too many problems occurred in the planning of the event (including catering, getting a DJ, turnout, profit and time to prepare and set it up) that it was only reasonable to cancel it.
We do not have a lot of funds left from our account so the gifts we decided to give had to be donations. This was a good way of getting the OSC community involved in our service and helping the children in the prison indirectly. A lot of people have unwanted toys that they were willing to give away after we asked around, so we decided to put up a bulletin asking for donations as well as send out an email.
We went out to the prison the following Thursday, December 3rd, 2015. Although it was a little last minute, we managed it together. Ariana and I spent a good chunk of time wrapping the presents, even though they ended up getting ripped apart during the security check. This was disheartening because one of the joys of receiving presents was opening them. However, I still understood the reasons why; we should’ve considered that some gifts might be potentially harmful to have inside the prison. Receiving all these toys from OSC student and faculty including toy cars, dolls, stuffed animals in such a short amount of time was amazing. All of the toys were still in great condition to be re-gifted. We managed Santa to hand out gifts and food (thank you Leonie in Grade 10!) and we spent the rest of the time playing with the children and their gifts. It made me the happiest to see a kid’s face light up when they received a cute stuffed cat. Even their mothers were happy to see their kids enjoy the gifts.
I hope for the future we are able to bring the children outside of the prison. Its been suggested we could bring them to school or take them to the zoo. This would be a great chance for the children to see the world outside of prison and I hope it happens! For now our biggest project is painting the prison and creating a mural for the prison. In an upcoming post I will highlight all the outcomes of planning this painting and hopefully will have some images to share.