When most kids are asked what they want Santa to bring them for the holidays, their answers usually trend toward toys inspired by the latest superhero or princess movie, or whatever new craze is popular on the playground. But last year, when eight-year-old Marion Bergeron set out to write a letter to Kris Kringle, she had something else in mind: she wanted to give back.
Giving back is an integral part of the Bergeron family. Marion’s parents Christine and Joshua have a long history with United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA), which began with Joshua’s work as part of the Loaned Executive (LE) Program. Through his experience as an LE, the community-minded couple learned of UWCA’s allocations process, which distributes the millions of dollars raised annually to more than 80 partner agencies throughout Blount, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker Counties. The pair decided to join a Visiting Allocations Team themselves as a way to both give and receive something of great value.
“We get to spend time together that we might not otherwise get to while doing something beneficial for someone,” said Joshua. “It’s a win-win!”
The couple cites their two young daughters – Marion and her six-year-old sister Rosie – as inspiration for their dedication to community.
“It’s always been important to us to pass on to them the importance of building up your community,” Christine said. “And through partnering with United Way, you’re able to do something small that can make a big difference in someone’s life.”
Because of this, both girls are members of the Girl Scouts, a UWCA partner focused on developing young women into leaders of their communities. And it was a Girl Scout project that inspired young Marion to use her Christmas wish to create something positive for others.
“Each year, our Girl Scout troop puts together stocking stuffers,” said Christine. “Last year was the first time that it really made an impact on Marion by showing her that the holidays don’t look the same for everyone.”
After discussing the heartbreaking reality that many children don’t find much under the Christmas tree, Marion came up with a very big idea. She decided that she wanted Santa to deliver her Christmas presents to patients at Children’s of Alabama.
“I just thought about how those kids in the hospital don’t get that much time to spend with their families because they’re hurt or sick, and I just wanted to give them some cheer,” said Marion.
Her parents told her she’d have to write to Santa to see if this unorthodox delivery was feasible. His answer came a couple of weeks later by way of a pile of presents at the front door. On top was a note from the man in red, explaining that he thought she should deliver the presents herself, so she could see the impact of her giving spirit. The family packed up the gifts and headed to Children’s, sharing holiday hope with those who needed it most.
“Sometimes there’s too much sadness in the world, and I just want to bring joy,” said Marion.
Because she’d donated her gifts from Santa to Children’s of Alabama, when Marion awoke on Christmas morning, she didn’t have any gifts under the tree. But that didn’t last long because her giving spirit was matched by younger sister Rosie, who gladly shared her gifts. The Bergerons know that when we LIVE UNITED, amazing things – even Christmas miracles – can happen.