Red Stocking wrapping a labor of love
This Christmas I added a new goal to my holiday to-do list: to volunteer as a Red Stocking gift-wrapper. Wrappers were needed on December 15-17 from 9 am to 2 pm. The flexible hours allowed me the opportunity to carve out a few hours on Monday morning from my erratic schedule, with the blessing of Times managing editor Nelson Sigelman.
I arrived a little after 9 am to find gift-wrappers already hard at work. Stationed at long tables, they ripped off squares of festive paper with practiced precision from rolls on metal stands and wrapped gifts of all sizes with impressive speed and deftness.
The gift-wrappers included a wide variety of volunteers, many of them seasoned veterans, under the organization and direction of Red Stocking board member Patricia Carlet.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
"This is my fourth year - I enjoy doing this," said Rosemary Ribarik, who lives within walking distance of the church and who also volunteers at the Food Pantry. She said she likes to volunteer where she can in her community, and since she can walk to both places, that makes it all the better.
"I'm a member of Grace Church, and it was mentioned in the church bulletin last Sunday," said Lucy Hackney, also a past volunteer. "It's a lot of fun."
Second year volunteer Pam Foster said she came back because, "This gets you in the Christmas spirit." She was right. While we wrapped, other hustling and bustling volunteers sorted toys and books and organized the wrapped gifts, which all had numbers on them, into bags. There definitely was a feeling of excitement in the air.
I stationed myself across a table from Peggy Burke, who said she decided to volunteer after reading about it in an article in The Martha's Vineyard Times. "I wanted to do something for my country," she added.
Although we were both novices, Ms. Burke had a half-hour of experience more than I and was able to give me some on-the-job training.
She also helped keep me straight. At one point, after wrapping several sets of knit hats and mittens, I thought I was in "the zone," until Ms. Burke gently questioned whether I realized I was wrapping two sets together instead of one.
I redeemed myself, however, by wrapping a Tyrannosaurus Rex. After wrestling with the three-foot high, pastel multi-colored stuffed animal for several minutes, I earned kudos from my co-gift-wrappers for the finished product. That gave me the confidence to take on a big plastic dump truck filled with a bag of giant Legos.
A few hours later, I left with a dinosaur-sized smile on my face, imagining the faces of children on Christmas Day who will open the gifts we wrapped.