Like most fathers this time of year, I have been asked by my daughters what I want for Christmas. And like most fathers, I have offered up some pretty useless suggestions.
Every year we dance the same steps. My kids ask me what I want, and I tell them their eternal love and admiration. They roll their eyes and ask again. I stammer a bit and acknowledge that, if they really must buy me something, I could always you socks and white T-shirts. They roll their eyes some more. If you don't know by now, the eye roll is a default response for most teenage girls.
The two-step typically goes on like this for a week or two until the girls give up. In the end, they either break down and buy the socks and T-shirts I asked for, or branch out and get me something I “should” have – more often than not, some sort of pastel, argyle, quarter-zip sweater thing better suited for a 16-year-old named Trevor than an aging dad who was last seen wearing anything vaguely resembling pastel in 1991, when a dollop of pesto dropped on his earth tone tie and dried an unnatural shade of chartreus.
Despite my love of tradition, I had vowed to come up with something my loved ones could get me this year, something I really wanted. I contemplated electronics and tools and other man-toys that might bring me a few hours of pleasure. I was about to settle on the new Civil Wars CD and a new desk lamp, when I received an email that, as kismet would have it, contained exactly what I want this Christmas.
The email was from Jacque Daley-Perrin. If you don't know Jacque, it should suffice to say she is a Daley, descendent of a long and infamous line of do-gooders that includes her late mother, the whirlwind of action, Shirley Daley.
Like her mother, Jacque has a tough time walking past a problem in need of fixing. In this instance, it was a failed coat drive for the Cheryl Allen Southside Community Center. While stopping by to drop off a check from the foundation that bears her mother's name, she discovered a center staffed by volunteers, struggling to do a lot with little.
“During the short time I was at the center, I saw and experienced the cheerful and grateful smiles of folks in need, a faith- filled, dedicated director who receives no pay for her work, trying to figure out how she is going to meet the most basic needs that many folks who receive support from the center require,” Jacque wrote in an email to friends and co-workers.
The latest hit to the center had been the failure of a planned coat drive. A business had offered to fund a coordinate a drive that was expected to bring in 1,000 coats the center had planned to distribute Saturday. Less than a week ago, they found out that the business decided not to take on the project.
And so Jacque went to work. She emailed friends and family, asking them to drop of gently used coats, scarves, hats or gloves at her house. She scrounged up some barrels to hold them and made room in the basement to stack the donations. From there, it grew. This is a good community for making good, small ideas grow.
Which brings us back to what I really want for Christmas. I want to see Jacque and the good folks at the Cheryl Allen Center absolutely overwhelmed by our town's willingness to step up.
So far, we have four drop-off locations. Boxes will be set up through Dec. 28 at the Lima Family YMCA on Elizabeth Street, Vino Bellisimo, the wine and beer shop on Shawnee Road, attached to DeHaven's Home and Garden Showplace, and the United Way offices on Collett Street. You can also drop off coats and outerwear at the City of Lima Parks Department offices on Collett Street, and at the Lima Central Catholic basketball game this Friday night.
If you have no coats available, write a check to Cheryl Allen Center, 1802 S. Central Ave., Lima OH 45801.
And if you would like to help in other ways – aid in delivery, offer your business as a collection spot, etc. – get ahold of Jacque at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite all the jokes, I realize how very blessed I am that I and my family really need nothing this Christmas. But I want something – a city absolutely polluted with boxes overflowing with coats. And even my kids can't roll their eyes at that.