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This is gonna be brief, elves, because I'm 1 day post-surgery and grogged up on Vicodin. All hail the mighty lady Vicodin! zzzzzzzzzz

Anyway, here's my idea for this year's Xmas project. This year, I suggest that we pick a theme. We can start nominating themes on this board, and take a board-wide vote at the end of November. This would enable folks to join in the Xmas project in their own communities, in any way they can, big or small. We would still have a Chicago component, in order to keep the tradition alive, but we would also be able to include people who cannot afford to participate in the Chicago component, as well as people who live too far away. After Xmas, I will post the Chicago stories, and everyone who contributed to this year's theme in their home community will post their own stories as well. What do you think?

I would like to make the first theme nomination for this year's Xmas project: HUNGER.

I have two ideas for the Chicago component for this theme:

(1) There is a church on the south side of Chicago that serves an extremely impoverished neighborhood. Every year, the pastor - who himself experienced chronic hunger due to poverty as a child - fasts for the entire month of December (to remind himself of his childhood suffering, he says) while he holds a food drive for the children and families of the neighborhood so that every neighborhood child can eat on Xmas Day. It takes him all month to get the food sufficient to feed the families of the neighborhood for just that one day.

Last year, for the first time, his food drive made the local news on Xmas Day (which is how I learned of it). I was extremely moved by the efforts to which poor families were going in order to share with their neighbors the food they had. I was thinking that we could send food or grocery gift certificates, but also blankets and toys for the children. I could deliver items to the church, or you could send things directly. I know that the church focuses only on feeding the children of the neighborhood, and that those children do not get toys or warm clothes on Xmas.

(2) There was a recent article in the Sunday NYTimes on hunger in the U.S., and it focused on Pembroke County, one of the poorest counties in the country. Pembroke is within an hour's drive from Chicago. Apparently, chronic hunger is rampant in Pembroke, and the pictures of the poverty were devastating - children living in shacks with no heat and dirt floors, and so on. I'm sure I could track down some sort of church or relief agency in Pembroke, and we could attempt to feed the children of Pembroke for Xmas Day.

I am open and eager to hear other nominations for themes as well, along with ideas and suggestions. Please remember that we don't have to do a Chicago component - we can make this year's project all local, or we can switch cities. I am open to wherever this year's blessing will take us.

One favor I ask is that you all publicize this post, and the beginning of this year's project, on other boards. I'm pretty knocked out by yesterday, and will be taking a break for a few days. So spread the word, elves, and let's get to work - it's Xmas time!


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