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breakfast with santa + giving back | jen mcken, photographer

By November 9, 2012 3 Comments

 “Our goal is to deliver, through a shiny new toy at Christmas, a message of hope to needy youngsters that will motivate them to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders.” -Toys for Tots.

This is a little longer than normal…..sorry!! 🙂

When I was about Mallory’s age, I remember standing in line at one of the local churches. It was cold and we could see our breath…..and I remember watching other Mom’s carrying out boxes. My mom was about 23 at the time with an 8 year old and a 4 year old…and since my dad was working she had no one to watch us while she “ran her errands”. On this particular day, my sister and I watched as Mom picked up a box of toys that had been donated by complete strangers and given to the local churches for families like ours..needy families! My dad worked countless hours to earn a paycheck to live in a trailer (that had seen better days) and to drive beat up cars. There were no more pennies to pinch for the holidays, my Mom had pinched them as far as they could possibly be pinched. At the time, I never worried about things like that…honestly, at the time I had no clue what my parents were going thru…but looking back, it was so obvious. That was the year I got a Strawberry Short Cake suitcase filled with Barbie dolls and a Rainbow Bright doll. 🙂

I’m not sure why THAT particular memory sticks…….and most people would be insanely embarrassed. Not me. I figure that I remember it to make me humble and to constant reminder of how I see the world. I choose to believe that there are GOOD people out there.  Sure, eventually our family got out of the hard times we were experiencing with some hard work and determination but I’ll never forget where I came from….and the COMPLETE strangers out there who were willing to make our Christmas a little brighter.  Trust me, it didn’t go unnoticed! Often times when I post to Facebook about some act of kindness I’ve witnessed, lots of people are so quick to jump on the “ohh, wow, you mean there are still honest, kind people out there?”. My answer is YES…..there are. You just have to learn to see it!

I wanted to do something a little different to help spread the love this year and do some GOOD for the families that were just like mine. But I need your help to get the word out. If you will be coming to Breakfast with Santa on December 1st at Chestnut Ridge  AND you bring along an unused, unopened toy that can be donated to Toys for Tots, that will be distributed in your community, your name will be entered into drawing for a chance to win a complimentary gift certificate with me to be used towards a family session (with ALL digital files-a $950 value). And just so everyone is a winner…..if you donate a toy, I’ll send you the digital file of your child’s picture with Santa after the event, along with the complimentary 5×7 image Chestnut is giving away for attending.

We will be drawing the winner that day…but you DON’T need to be present to win! Please keep in mind, this is not a requirement to attend, but for those of you who do bring a donated toy, you could be leaving with a certificate for some pretty kick butt photos and be helping out some kids in need.

Not signed up to attend yet? Give the folks at Chestnut a call to reserve your spot….this is a reservation only event, so please call or email ahead to reserve your spot.  ( or 724-459-7191 ext 126) They sell out fast…last year there was over 200 people!  Not sure what Breakfast with Santa is? Check out last year’s post here:

Can’t wait to see everyone!!! If you’re local…help me spread the word!

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA @ Chestnut Ridge Resort, Blairsville PA
Saturday, December 1st at 10:00am
$12.95/pp and kids under 4 eat Free!
Make your reservation today!
724-459-7191 ext 126


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