Our 2012 Operation Gift Basket effort is officially done and delivered! We did things a little differently this year in that we organized all the bags and boxes one week prior to the "official" assembly date and that worked out well. It gave Wendy a chance to go through all the boxes and see where more donations were required and solicit those items from people who still wanted to contribute. It also gave Wendy's husband, Lance, the added bonus of eating his meals and reading his paper on any surface other than the kitchen table for another week, since that was full of items of toiletry and he's funny about that kind of thing.

The first go-round of elves were faced with the task of organizing all the items into various boxes and organza bags and believe it or not, that took the better part of the first evening. We got a bit jubilant and ahead of ourselves and thought we would start assembling the boxes, but it became apparent that we were all running out of steam so we shut down operations for that night.Wendy decided that adding the incentive of wine to the next occasion might lubricate people for a longer period of time, so put that out there for the next crew coming on board the next week. Wendy informed the elves she would be purchashing the best boxed wine money could buy and the RSVP's started FLYING in to help. It's amazing what people will do for a cheap glass of wine.

We had a full house the night of assembling the boxes and Wendy had to rent a U-Haul to house the items this year. Due to a flood situation in their basement, there was no room to store the boxes in the garage, as in previous years, so this was the best solution and actually worked out very well. It also gave Wendy the opportunity to run up and down the ramp leading to the truck approximately 100 times, which was muscle spasm-inducing to her glutes and calves. Its always a bonus when you get to multi-task.

The elves were properly exhausted after all that good effort, but there was a nice feeling of accomplishment in the crowd. After hustling into the U-Haul for a photo op, everyone raised a glass and toasted to the hard work.

The next morning, Wendy got the fun task of commandeering the 17 cubic foot U-Haul to the first delivery and was cautious to say the least. Driving down Lonsdale Avenue at the mach speed of 20 miles per hour so she wouldn't hit anyone or anything caused a lot of cars to drive around her to speed by and for some to throw snarky looks her way for the turtle-slow driving being exhibited. After the first delivery to the North Shore Crisis Services Society, Wendy placed an emergency call to Lance to come and be her chauffeur so she didn't have to careen around the city for the rest of the deliveries and risk her fellow citizens wrath.

Deliveries were made to the North Shore Crisis Services Society, the North Shore Women's Crisis Centre, the Lookout Emergency Aid Society, the Harvest Project, Turning Point Recovery Society and Harbour Light in East Vancouver. Everyone had fun unloading the boxes and Wendy even got to hand one out early to a client at the Harvest Project who had popped by. Wendy insisted that everyone put the reindeer antlers on their heads to commemorate the occasion and most of the recipients were co-operative. Hey, if you can't have fun with it all, what IS the point?

So all in all, another successful year with just under 300 boxes assembled! We are officially DONE for 2012, however are definitely looking to up the ante for 2013. Keep collecting those toiletries and if you know of a company who would like to donate items such as men's and women's socks, gloves, scarves, toques, or WHATEVER, we are here to receive.

Over and out for 2012...see you in 2013!