Saturday, November 12, 2011

Mall Rats - Part Two

It appears the plan is working!

Remember my elaborate scheme about making and selling crafts to raise funds to buy toys and clothes for refugee kids? Well, it has actually happened.

For weeks, our piano was stacked with colourful folds of fleece. The idea was that my daughter could tie knots in the blankets any time she watched television. The reality was that I knotted some of the blankets while I watched television, although she did more than a little.

There were four blue, yellow and green star blankets, and four pink, sage and yellow flowered blankets. Actually there were only three of the latter, as I used one for a baby shower.

Last weekend, we delivered the blankets, with notes pinned to them, explaining their story. A friend was hosting what she called a Living Room Market, where crafty people could sell their wares, and a portion of the proceeds went to refugee families. We stopped by twice during the day -- the first time, none had sold. The second time, two had sold. We gathered the blankets in our arms, preparing to leave, and then the vendors swarmed us, buying all the blankets in a matter of seconds. We were jubilant.

While this could have been a lesson in economics (profit = sale price - costs), I had decided to donate the material cost. My friend also waived her portion of the total, so the two girls were left with $120.

A friend who works with refugees had told us about a family, new to Canada, who had fled their home with their now 5 and 2 year old daughters, literally overnight, leaving all their toys, dolls and games behind.

Our girls were armed with a full wallet and eagerness. Yesterday, the other mom accompanied them to the mall, and let them go off on their own with a cell phone, to do their shopping.

Two hours later, they arrived at my house, laden with three shopping bags -- and $4.98 in change. We emptied the contents out on the dining room table. I'll tell you what they bought, but don't tell the little girls who will receive the toys in the next couple of weeks:

- Playdough
- Two colouring books (they had asked for colouring books specifically)
- Two soft soft full-sized teddy bears
- Two small, big-eyed stuffed animals (a dog and a panda. They had considered a reindeer, but decided that their toys needed to have staying power beyond Christmas)
- Two Barbies and a smaller plastic doll
- Ablack-skinned baby doll (We had talked about the fact that it would be a good thing to find dolls that looked like the girls, if at all possible. My daughter commented later that her own skin is significantly darker than the peach colour usually called skin tone, and that no one actually looks like a Barbie.)
- Two colourful pairs of mittens
- A white ruffled sweater for the older girl
- A funky, striped pink dress/tunic for the toddler.

The family had requested a skipping rope and books too, but the girls are donating these out of their own abundant collections.

I have to say that the choices they made seemed absolutely perfect. They talked about the stores they had visited, their instincts to go to the sales rack, the things they had put back because they were too costly.

Now we're at the final step: the part where the big girls meet the little girls. Probably the awkwardness will all be on the adults' side. The girls are eager to meet the little ones they've been dreaming about.

We've all decided that this isn't going to be a Christmas thing, but here's what I suspect: when we watch the little girls have their own toys and craft supplies again, it will feel exactly like Christmas morning, at least for one of us.

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