Wednesday, December 17, 2014


My holiday buzz has been harshed. There's an organization here in Chicago that does very worthy work, giving boys and girls in at-risk communities somewhere safe to go after school. They are, however, just one charity that performs this valuable function. There are others. I tend to support the others, because the organization I'm referring to in this post gets a great deal of support from Chicago's advertising agencies. Instead I give to Toys for Tots and a local childrens home

Yesterday, when I got into the office, there was a letter to Santa on my chair. Kia wanted nail polish so she could give her little girlfriends manicures during a sleepover. Every one of us had a similar letter. The kids from the organization this agency supported wrote very detailed, very heart-wrenching letters.

I was ambivalent about this. I felt I was being blackmailed into giving to this organization, just so my agency could enjoy bragging rights within the ad community. On the other hand, if I didn't participate, Kia wouldn't get what she asked Santa for.

I asked my coworkers if they were participating and offered to pick up the toys requested in their Santa letters. Then I went to Target and spent more than $110 on remote controlled cars, My Little Pony, Lalaloopsey and other brand name toys, because the kids requested them. (Yes, my coworkers reimbursed me.)

Then I found out that the letters were reproduced and at least three of us agencywide got the same letter. And that's just at this agency. I know of two others that are having toy drives for this organization this week.

I feel used and exploited.

I will never give to this organization again, no matter how much pressure my agency puts on me.

This doesn't feel at all like what Christmas should be about.