I’VE done my good deed for the week.
I wanted to start putting something back into the community after all the help I’ve had from others over the years.
So the girls and I volunteered at the Echuca-Moama Salvation Army on Wednesday to help distribute Christmas presents to local families in need.
After getting the 20 questions from the girls, including ‘‘but doesn’t Santa give presents to poor kids too?’’ and ‘‘why don’t the mums and dads use their credit cards to buy some presents for their kids?’’, we set to work.
Almost 200 children were registered to receive presents, so it was like a kids’ wonderland in there.
Acres and acres of toys, games, books, piled high as far as the eye could see.
Heaven to my children.
Ayla’s eyes started to bulge.
Maya’s mouth started watering.
Mummy started to worry.
Surrounded by some other lovely volunteers, I put on my winning smile while secretly giving my girls ‘the look’.
That look that says ‘‘don’t even think about it’’, ‘‘these toys are not for you’’, ‘‘don’t you dare embarrass me’’.
I’m pretty sure Ayla got the hint, but Maya was like a kid (probably because she is) in a lolly shop (where she goes rarely).
I could see the vein in her forehead pumping madly and her eyes darting all over the place, not knowing where to look.
‘‘What was I thinking?’’ was the think that flashed through my mind as it started coming apart.
‘‘I’ve taken a six-year-old to Santa’s workshop but she can’t touch a thing.’’
I told the girls to have a look around so they could help parents pick out suitable gifts for their children.
True to form, Maya comes back with a Barbie and ever so innocently coos: ‘‘Can I have this mum?’’
‘‘Now what did I say Maya?’’ I tell her.
‘‘But we’re poor mum,’’ she replies.
Oh! My! God!
Now, I may have mentioned a few times that ‘‘mummy has no money left’’ or ‘‘that is too expensive’’ or ‘‘just because I have a credit card doesn’t mean I have money’’ or ‘‘porridge can be dinner too’’, but I’m pretty sure I never said we were poor.
But my memory has been a little hazy lately.
I switched into emergency mode and diverted her attention to a young struggling mother who had come to collect presents for her two young boys.
Ayla was on the ball. She asked the boys’ ages and set off to find some gifts for them.
Quick as a flash, she came back with an armful of options – dinosaurs, Lego, robots; typical boys stuff for the eldest.
Maya then looked down at Barbie and handed it to the woman.
‘‘Your boy can have my Barbie,’’ she said.
Bless your heart Maya. ‘‘My Barbie’’.
Unfortunately the four-week-old boy wasn’t into Barbies, but it’s the thought that counts as they say.
Aussie parents are actually being urged to ‘‘buy a boy a Barbie’’ this Christmas as part of No Gender December so Maya was accidentally on the money.
It’s part of a movement against gender-stereotyped toys and presents which I think is a great idea.
Anyhoo, back to the story.
We spent a few fulfilling hours helping others less fortunate than ourselves.
The look of happiness and relief on the faces of those who would otherwise not be able to give their child a present was, it turned out, priceless. The ultimate Christmas gift.
I encourage everyone, especially children, to spend a few hours volunteering or helping others in some way in the lead-up to Christmas.
You’re not only making a difference in someone’s life, they’re making a difference in yours.
Ayla said it best: ‘‘This feels so good.’’
Clearly one good deed a week is a good start, but there is room for a lot more.