The term “corporate greed” has been used in abundance this past year. It’s impossible to pick up a newspaper, magazine or scan a website without reading/hearing about selfish, swindling Executives whose gluttonous actions and decisions have resulted in the massive downward spiral of our economy.
ATTENTION all cynics, pessimists, skeptics and untrusting citizens out there (and yes, I was one of them before this weekend!)… THERE ARE LOTS of good, generous and big-hearted people in this world, and many of them reside and work in the Philadelphia area!
Our ‘assignments’ commenced about 2 months ago when the trifecta of Kids Wish Network, Shriners Hospitals for Children – Philadelphia, and JAKKS Pacific/CDI (who donated a mind-boggling $100,000 worth of toys) agreed to coordinate a HOLIDAY OF HOPE celebration the first weekend in December. With fingers crossed, my colleagues and I contacted various vendors, dialing, emailing and faxing potential sponsors in search of donations. Our wish list included: a DJ, face painter, clowns, balloon artists, food, drinks, decorations, games and anything else that would lend itself to a “party atmosphere” for these 250 deserving children (Shriners patients and their often neglected siblings). We divvied up the categories – my “partner in crime” was in charge of obtaining entertainment while I tackled food & beverages.
I’m not good at asking for things – money, items, rides… so this task was certainly a challenge! Unfortunately, there were a number of companies who never returned my calls and emails despite my persistent ways. Others politely declined; their charitable dollars had been depleted for the year, their funds were allocated to other philanthropic causes, and/or their company had taken a financial hit. I learned quickly not to take these ‘rejections’ personally, and moved on to the next phone call.
The HOLIDAY OF HOPE celebration took place this past Saturday (December 5th – a date that will remain with me for a long time) on a gray, wintry afternoon at 3551 North Broad Street.
The first sponsor to walk in the door was APPLEBEE’S (2501 Aramingo Avenue). Lester Franklin and his hospitable team arrived pre-event to prep/cook 120 lunches for our volunteers who generously relinquished part of their weekend to assist us and “spread the joy”. Speaking of volunteers, they all donned HOLIDAY OF HOPE t-shirts (reflecting the names of ALL our wonderful sponsors) thanks to J.P. TEE’S, INC.
As the event approached, more and more vendors arrived, bundled up from the snow that had just started falling. It was a family affair for PEACE A PIZZA (1652 Chestnut Street) as Ron Baban and his daughter marched in with 15 piping hot pies, and CHICK-FIL-A reinforced their infamous “Eat Mor Chikin” slogan by serving 1,200 chicken nuggets.
And since this is (was!) Philadelphia, a party just wouldn’t be a party without… cheesesteaks! Many thanks to both DALESSANDRO’S STEAKS AND HOAGIES (600 Wendover Street) and JAKE’S PHILADELPHIA CHEESESTEAKS (16th Street & Chestnut Street) for delivering mouth-watering sandwiches Philly-style! Also joining in the celebration was TAYLOR’S BAR AND GRILL (Cherry Hill, NJ) who donated French fries for the families to enjoy.
I first read about Kate Carrara a/k/a BUTTERCREAM CUPCAKE LADY, on www.philly.com, and was fascinated by this career changer’s story – a former attorney who now sells homemade treats from a truck that makes stops throughout Center City. Kate was one of the first sponsors to confirm her attendance without hesitation. We had presented the idea of a Make-Your-Own-Cupcake Station – and Kate not only delivered the concept, but the cupcakes!!! ..And while we’re on the subject of cakes, let’s not forget the amazing “Aces of Cakes”-like sheet cake donated by THE RESTAURANT SCHOOL AT WALNUT HILL COLLEGE. The chefs and students outdid themselves this year (they also donated in 2006) and we can’t thank them enough!
And to top of the onslaught off sugar-y snacks, TASTYKAKE also joined us again this year, donating over 300 scrumptious mini chocolate cakes for the children. Let’s just say that Marie-Antoinette would have been proud!
And finally, special thanks to the Mom & Daughter team (Sharon & KaLitha) at SHARON’S BALLOONS, who created a magnificent, eye-catching balloon arch that rose high above the room for all to see. CIRCUS TIME AMUSEMENTS AND ENTERTAINMENT (Pennsauken, NJ) donated several carnival-style games which the children loved!
As cliché as it sounds, these participating sponsors truly went ‘above and beyond’ and we could not have executed this very special event without their products, resources and smiling employees, a validation that the holiday spirit is overflowing in the City of Brotherly Love!
HOTM Facility Coordinator