This is a short version of a pre-posted diary.
It was 1971. We had just bought a farm outside of a little town called Montevideo, Minnesota. My husband quit his high paying white collar job at Honeywell and we sold all the IBM stock I had accumulated when I worked there. We also traded in a life insurance policy. We packed up our two children (ages 1 and 3 at the time) and high tailed it to the country.
Okay, you've got the picture....we were now pretty broke. We managed though, my husband took a low paying job and worked the farm that he'd always wanted. (This was all to my father in law's chagrin...it was beyond his comprehension to quit a good job to farm, like he'd done all his life. He was mortified!) In retrospect, we do wonder how in heavens name we could have had the nerve to do it.
About Thanksgiving time of 1971, I heard a commercial for the Minneapolis Santa Anonymous program. For whatever reason, I knew that I had to try starting one in Montevideo. There was no overwhelming sad story reason, just something telling me that I couldn't NOT do it.
I called the local radio station and they agreed to give three hours air time for a telethon where people could call in and pledge.
I called the County Social Service office and they agreed to handle the handing out of the gifts and agreed to give us the ages and sex of children who were in need.
I called the Senior Citizen's Center to get volunteers to wrap the gifts.
I met with a lawyer to make sure all legal aspects were covered.
I found a bank that agreed to handle all the pledge money.
The day before the telethon the radio station called me to do an ON AIR interview so I could answer questions about how the Santa Anonymous program would work and hopefully get people curious and interested in the program.
This is the moment my almost two year old daughter, Stacy, and my almost 4 year old son, Dan decided to sit on the floor and pour seven cups of cereal into a one cup bowl. How do kids know when you absolutely can't yell at them? When they added the milk I gasped....helplessly watching....WHILE I WAS TALKING ON AIR.
The day of the telethon arrived. One of the joys of living in the country in the winter is the winter weather roads. On my way "into town" with two kids in tow, we had snow.
And we had more snow...and before I knew it I was sitting sideways in the road.
Oops! Gently, Julie, back up real gently....ah, sigh of relief, it worked!
The telethon went greater than my highest expectations. In a three hour period we raised $1075. That was big bucks in that day and age. I can't remember exactly but I think we provided gifts to about 120 children that year. The shopping was a nightmare...it's hard enough shopping for your own kids but the local merchants were delighted and pitched in with ideas for different ages.
The following year I recruited some others to help and it was equally as successful.
In 1973 my husband was offered a job that was too good to refuse and made a lot more economic sense. We decided to rent out the farm to a neighbor and moved away from Montevideo.
What happens next is the most astounding. The torch was picked up by some very nice people and Santa Anonymous has just completed it's 38th year Anniversary!!
Do not underestimate what you are doing today! You never know how it will turn out.
I was just informed that their donations average about $9000 per year.
Two ladies, Rita Benson and Dixie Tilden are the wings beneath Santa Anonyomous' wings...they have done this for 36 years!