Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Celebrating the Season: Aspiranet's Holiday Gift Drive

Michelle is Aspiranet's Online Marketing Manager. Since last December, she's been the person behind our social media. In this post, she's sharing her thoughts on Aspiranet's Holiday Gift Drive with Starbucks Coffee Company. 

It's that time of year again.

I don't know about you, but the big "C" (and by that, I mean consumerism) at this time of year makes me feel uncomfortable. It desensitizes me to the joys of the holidays, leaving me scrambling to buy gifts and forgetting the best parts of the season.

I forget messy kitchens, standing by my mother's side rolling out pie crust and creaming butter and sugar for the perfect holiday cookie.

I forget crisp winter walks with the newest additions to the family cozy in their strollers, the smells of wood-burning fireplaces in the air.

I forget laughing at my dad trying to trim the Christmas tree with his tiny Walmart saw.

I forget about family and the unique opportunity the holidays present to celebrate it.

Working at Aspiranet, I am constantly reminded that a healthy, happy family is not guaranteed. The holiday memories for nearly 60,000 children in foster care in California this season will be drastically different than my own. They may wake up Christmas morning apart from their siblings for the first time in their lives. Perhaps they'll celebrate with a wonderful foster family, all the time thinking of what their mom or dad is doing that day.

60,000 is an enormous number. It's the population of a small city. Just imagine for a week: every single person you come across at the grocery store, at the post office, at work, in the airport represents a foster youth in California. Every person is a life you can impact this holiday.

This year I challenged myself to step away from my computer and do something for Aspiranet foster youth through our Annual Holiday Gift drive with Starbucks Coffee Company.

What an experience!

I carefully selected my ornament (eggnog latte in hand).

I shuffled over to Target and agonized over the perfect gifts. Obviously, Thomas the Tank is the perfect train, but I wasn't sure if Eduardo wanted only a train or the tracks to accompany. In the end, the starter set won.

Learning toys? I wanted something that would keep Eduardo occupied longer than a few minutes. I remembered my love for coloring books as a child and continued my commercial vehicle theme with a Tonka activity book and twistable crayons.

A stop at checkout for some batteries and my experience was complete.

Back at the office, I struggled with writing a personal note to Eduardo. What could I say to a four-year-old to tell him how much I care about him? How should I say that I come to work every day so that children like him can create happy memories of the holidays?

I pause, think of my two-year-old nephew and his infatuation with trains. I know exactly what to say:

Purchasing a gift for Eduardo was just what I needed to refocus on what's important this season. I'd be willing to wager that it will do the same for you.

If you'd like to participate in Aspiranet's Gift Drive with Starbucks, please visit