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Loving those littles this Christmas Season – Toy Drive for San Joaquin County Foster Kids

12/16/14

I was so full of emotion the night of homespun… I literally sat on the couch with tears streaming my face as Jared and I talked through the night… (ok, it may have been partly due to exhaustion… 🙂 but mostly because I was humbled to be a part of such an incredible night. For us this was our third annual toy drive. For the last three years we have set up a portrait booth and offered a special where if you donate toys or pjs we gift you three digital files free. (and for those of you who joined us this year know I stink at keeping the cuteness to three images so Christmas may have come a wee bit early) I love everything about a night like this! For us this even speaks to the “why” of what we do… We love that we get to capture incredibleness all year long but this night speaks to something even closer to the heart… it’s an opportunity for us to selflessly give to others. To our clients… to the social workers working hard to care for foster kiddos… and also to the foster kiddos themselves.

The doors promptly opened up at 5pm and I started shooting away… and as I turned to look at the line after our first client I was shocked to see y’all lined up and then we moved the line outside (yay for no rain!!!) and then the line went around the building. Seriously! Thank you so much to every family who battled out the kid filled line for your chance to donate a toy and give to kids that we are so passionate about! I know at one point the wait was at about 45 minutes… and we worked so hard to take care of every client we captured and keep the line moving as quickly as possible. I loved every twinkling eye we got to capture… and there were so many giggles going on… I loved it!

I was kind of jealous of Jared because he actually got to hang out with everyone in line and actually connect with families. One of the other reasons I love an event like this is because it creates an opportunity to talk with our kids about other kids in need. It’s an opportunity to tell them about their needs and get our own kiddos thinking about others and especially during this time of year.  One of my favorite stories from the night came from a family where when they were talking about bringing “A” gift to donate the four kids collaborated and decided they wanted to each bring their own gift to donate and even dipped into their personal little piggy banks to do it. To me if it gets us thinking about others… and talking about others… it’s so worth it! I get a little giddy at the end of the night as we line all of the gifts up to take a photo of them. I wonder about which child will get which gift and pray that each gift finds the perfect child… and even though the holidays might be hard for foster kids separated from their parents, families, and homes at christmas time that this small gift in some way will make their day! This is the part where I get a little real… We’ve been told by social workers that they see an increase of children entering into foster care during the holidays… times of extra stress… sometimes separated from siblings and always separated from the place they knew as home. I can’t even imagine how scary that would be… some of these kids can’t even worry about what Santa will bring because their little lives are consumed with much bigger concerns. And the truth is it breaks my heart… all year long… but thankful that together with each of you we can do a little something about it!

Reality Check- we had the privilege of delivering toys directly to San Joaquin County Child Protective Services. The kids and I loaded them up and then met Jared and a friend of his downtown Stockton so they could carry them all in. I wish I could say it went smoothly but well this is real life… and real life doesn’t always run real smooth. I included one of the pictures of “R” because of his tear stained eyes. He cried… and cried… and cried… at the thought of having to part with all of these toys. We had talked through how the afternoon was going to go and about who we were giving all of these toys to and why we were doing it but he still cried. So no mom of the year award over here for the most gracious kid ever… but what I loved about it was that we got to start the conversation about thinking about others even at age 4. It was a conversation for us to remind him… and for me to remind myself that this season… that this life is not all about us. It’s about something much bigger. It’s about other people and sharing God’s love with them.

Before we dive into sharing some of the cute photos from our toy drive we have been waiting to share two special things with you. One is a non-profit that we believe wholeheartedly in. Love All Cities… Love all cities was created by a very special couple to us and their love for their community and equipping other people an opportunity to serve others has really transformed our local community and they way people are able to see a need and fill a need. So if you are looking for a place to make any end of year donations or looking for a place to dive in and serve other people please check out their website.

 

Love ALL OUR KIDS just recently teamed up with Rumble Cinematography and shared a little more about our adoption story. Charlie with Rumble Cinematography did such a beautiful job! You can check that video out here!

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ahhhh…. cuteness overload! I loved every smile… giggle… and dare I say tear that fell! Loved hanging out with so many incredible families! (emails have all been sent out so if you didn’t receive yours yet I may not have had your email address correct. Please email us to have us resend it to you)Yay! Jared & I!

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