February 14 was a very big event when I was a little girl. From the G.C. Murphy Five and Ten Cent Store, our parents would help us purchase little boxes of valentine cards, each with a folding envelope. From the box we painstakingly selected a card that exemplified each classmate (that was of course in our 7-year old minds) and on the morning of the 14th, we went to school with a burgeoning packet of cards that said I like you or Be My Valentine. That’s the equivalent of today’s text message to your BFF. (We hadn’t yet perfected the art of being mean.)
Awaiting on the teacher’s desk was the most magnificent box, with slots on all four sides. It was elaborately decorated with red crepe paper, strings of pearls, doilies, large red construction paper hearts, all lovingly adorned with sparkles, bits of ruffled lace and red ribbon. Every child stuffed their valentines in the box, and we all suffered the interminable wait until afternoon recess, when the teacher handed out those horrible candy hearts with little sayings like “Sweet Heart.” The two best students received the honor of “delivering” all the valentines to the rest of us. Every child, still a generation away from today’s harsh realities, received cards from each classmate and we left school that day, wrapped in the innocence that we were loved by the whole world.
At home that evening, I would ooh and ahh over my treasure trove of cards while my big sister helped prepare the evening’s meal by putting red food coloring in everything. We dined on roast beef, red mashed potatoes or red applesauce, red salad dressing, followed by red angel food cake – all savored in the glow of red crêpe paper draped over the lamps. I promise you, for a second grader, it was magical day.
For many years back on the East Coast, I had the honor of serving on a non-profit board whose mission was to provide health care and support services to the homeless and those at risk for being homeless. The people who quietly served that board, both Directors, and Staff alike, were among the most dedicated, selfless people I have ever known.
This week, as I address about thirty silly and expensive Valentine cards to my extended family (Hallmark hit upon a good thing half a century ago) I am thinking about the homeless who were undoubtedly once 2nd graders who received and sent valentines. Today I’m not sure they’ll be on anyone’s valentine list, and they won’t likely have the feeling of being much loved by the world. But that can change. Here in the Coachella Valley there is a wonderful organization that I’ve been working with called The Well In The Desert, whose mission provides daily nutritious hot meals, emergency food assistance, weekly supplemental food distribution, and access to community services to those affected by poverty, including the working poor, the homeless, seniors, the handicapped and others in need.
There are more people facing homelessness and hopelessness, now more than ever, but if we all lend a helping hand, and share whatever we can, it will help.
So this is my valentine.
If you would like to make a cash donation or if you have some gently used clothing or non perishable food that you would like to donate, please
contact me, or go directly to the The Well In the Desert by clicking this link. If you are a business and would be willing to donate something of value to The Well Annual Fundraising Silent Auction – Fool’s Folly on April 1, all the better. Just reach out for me at my blog elizamoritz.wordpress.com, or e-mail me at email@example.com and I’ll put you in touch with the right people.
Whatever you can do to help those who are truly less fortunate, it will be the best valentine you’ll ever give and I promise you, it will be waaay more magical than red food coloring. Besides that food coloring turns your teeth really red!