Way back in ’95 Rhonda and I were having a couple of holiday pints at a local pub and talking about the upcoming holidays and how nice it would be to have all our friends around us to share in the warmth of the season.

The Christmas tree had lots of nametags on it and was sponsored by the Salvation Army Giving Tree. I suggested that we pull a name from the tree. It was at that time that we learned a secret about each other. Rhonda said that she had been taking a name from the tree, in secret, for the past few years. I laughed and said that my secret was that I had been sponsoring an “Adopt a Family” for the past few years.

This year, we decided we would combine our efforts and choose a name from the tree. The name we chose was Madeline. She wanted a beanie baby. We went out and purchased a grocery bag full of beanie babies and brought them back to the tree at the pub a couple of weeks later.

Much to our dismay there were still names on the tree that had not been sponsored! It broke our hearts. We would have taken the rest of them if we could but instead came upon a plan where we could include our friends in this wonderful opportunity. We thought that if we could sponsor 25 kids and throw a party inviting our friends to participate we would be able to help out more children than we could by ourselves.

The next year, 1996 we had our first “Madeline’s Party”, named in honor of the child’s name tag we chose together from “The Giving Tree”. That year we sponsored 25 children and invited about 20 guests over for a potluck party. It was beautiful to see how our friends took to the idea. We made the holidays a lot brighter for those children and their families.

Over the years, through your generosity, we have delivered thousands of gifts to Portland area children and their families. Our little house party has grown into a major event and our attendance list has grown from 25 to more than 350 participants!

This is an event people look forward to each year and make space for on their busy calendars. Attendees of “Madeline’s Party” have told us that their kids like to help with the purchase of the gifts and are excited to do it each year. It makes them feel good to donate to a family that may not be as fortunate as them. The gifts are more than just a holiday toy for children; they are a message that those families suffering hardships have not been forgotten.

Rhonda and I love doing this because it is a prime example of how much people can do when they come together for a worthwhile cause. We are always amazed at the generosity of our friends and family.

We thank you all for participating through your gifts and sponsorship. You are the people who have made the world a better place. Your contributions ease the distress of these families and that is a goal that transcends the gift itself.