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The ride of Saint Nick – Chapter 2

My family and I belong to a wonderful organization called Als Angels that raises money for families and children. The founder Al DiGuido is a very successful marketing/agency entrepreneur and he created this charity just because he felt a need to give back.

Here is a touching entry from his journal on their efforts during the holidays. I encourage you to read it as it may bring a range of thoughts and emotions including joy, hope, sadness, anger, smiles, angst…

Welcome these emotions in and use this story as another reminder of the abundance you have in your life.
mj

The Al’s Angels (www.alsangels.org) Santa & Frosty tour will make a total of
6 stops this year….Nearly 4000 toys will be distributed to those in desperate need.

It is the hope of Santa and his band of elves…that in reading these messages…

You will come to believe….if not in Santa or miracles….the power that each of us

Have to impact on the lives of others. The Power of love and kindness to bring joy

To those less fortunate. And in believing…you will share your spirit with others..

Monday December 16th

The sled has been packed in early morning

Temperatures around New York this day are very warm…

Much less the Christmas scene of greeting cards

There is no snow….no chestnuts roasting…anywhere

We carry on Santa’s behalf toys for our special children

Destination this day….the soul of Harlem

125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Blvd

A regular stop for Santa each year.

For here are the victims of domestic violence

Many “families” here are father less

Women who have been battered either physically or mentally..

Their children….a lasting witness to the horror of abuse

For them…there is a need of a safe horizon

From previous years, we remember to bring lots of elves

There are simple games, tattoos, simple crafts

The elves enjoy playing with these children.

Our special elves are seated at long tables in an overly heated room…

Home made food in aluminum containers on a table…

Cookies, chips, crackers, big bottles of store brand soda

Folding chairs have been set up so that mothers (some pregnant)

Grandmothers and children can sit…while they wait…

Seems they are always waiting…

For Santa to visit them on this Monday evening

We set up our inflatable Santa Workshop and kid fave; Santa Train

The kids flock to it…as if they have never seen anything like it…

And most haven’t.

This is Harlem…the streets are mostly dark…the mood darker..outside..

In street clothes, Rubin and I are making the rounds…chatting kids

And moms up…trying to lighten the mood…

One mom…refuses to smile…

Asking her friend…why…?

I learn that her kids were taken from her this day…

No further explanation required.

City Services folks can be jerky at times…and today is no exception.

NEED TO VACATE THE ROOM BY 7PM….

The bark comes….

Ok…we will move it along..

Ushered are we to the 8th floor to a “classroom” to make our transformation..

Frosty first; sans his head piece fan

Seems it is beyond repair.

And what a sight to see we are…exiting the upper floor room…

Frosty leading with Santa trailing behind…

Adults in the hallways have become children at the sight..

All making claims of goodness….

Santa doubts and counsels them to “be good”

While Santa waits outside….Frosty enters the room

The screams of joy shiver me to the bone…

On cue…Santa bounds into the room…and is besieged…

The kids are going crazy….jumping out of their seats…

It is in the eyes of a child….that joy is so clear

These are children….from battered homes…

For this moment…all of that is forgotten….all of the pain..

The darkness is lifted….

They do believe….that they have not been forgotten…

That some miracle has happened..

Santa is actually here on 125th St…in Harlem…

That he came for THEM….

They are dressed in their best clothes…party dresses…

The boys…in t shirts…

All of them winking…and waving…

And now come the questions…

Where is “comet” ?

Where are your reindeer ?

I have been good…I have been good !!!! they protest…

How did you get here ????

Did you bring us toys..?

Santa…Santa….I have been good…!!!!

Frosty and Santa sit on folding chairs as the children face us

Waiting for their names to be called…

With each name…some…run…smiling…from ear to ear..

Others walk slowly….questioning the scene..

Santa talks with each one..

Age, Grade in School, Favorite subject..

Married…Girlfriend….

Is this mom..? Has she been good..?

Santa is trying to bring smiles and laughter…

Successful many times…

Sadly…others not so….the pain too deep..

There are too cute babies…whose mothers take

The opportunity to take camera phone pictures

Santa…can you tell my brother to stop hitting me..?

I will try…say I…

Hug him…says Santa….

It is their faces…their smile…their eyes that are forever

Etched in our memories..

I can see the twinkle…the spirit….the belief

In their eyes…the innocence of a fragile spirit..

Many of these children are under 10 years old..

So fragile….so precious..

They have seen such horror…in their young lives..

And why…? Why….?

How could human being subject fellow human being with such

Violence and Pain.

For several hours this night in harlem…there was no fear…

Only laughter, joy, love

After the last child sat on Santa’s lap…

Elf Gilda whispers in Santa’s ear…

This is the mom that lost her children…

She wants gifts for them…

Her way to get them back for the holidays

Details are not important…

Of course…Not a question..

Mom…is crying now…

She sits on Santa’s lap and keeps saying Gracias…

Gracias…Gracias…

De Nada…

Most of the gifts remained wrapped for the entire nite..

For these children…tonight…this is Christmas…

Gifts given early…but not to be opened…

Until the 25th of December…

With a wave of my hand…Santa is leaving..

But not before more questions..

Where are you going…?

I need to feed the reindeer.

Where are the reindeer..?

On the roof..

Can I see them…..?

Not until Christmas eve…says Santa..

How do you come to my house..?

Down the chimney..

I live in a apartment building…?

When you are sleeping..I ring the bell and mom let’s me in…

Santa could stay for hours…

7pm…Vacate the room…echoes…

Back in jeans and jacket…

We are packing up

There are still a bunch of kids…cherishing

The last bit of food and joy in the room…

Our workshop and train are being deflated..

Kids really don’t want them to leave…either.

It is raining lightly…as we exit on to much

Darker 126th St.

The reality of the world here is so daunting..

It’s tough to feel hope…

For brief moments…this night…

Yet another miracle occurred..

Those in pain…

Children in desperate need of hope..

Experienced joy

They believed that they were not forgotten..

That God really loved them…

There was peace on this patch of earth

2nd Floor of the municipal building.

What we came to bring

Was delivered

Our work was done.

Tomorrow is another day…

Good night from Harlem, NY

Al

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