By Eric Jayne
On Saturday, December tenth, several local atheists gathered with their gift donations at the Green Mill restaurant in St. Paul. Their mission: to donate and wrap presents for patients at Children’s Hospital of Minnesota. After enjoying a feast, accompanied by nontraditional Christmas music, we wrapped the many donated gifts. They consisted of gift cards, Legos, toys, books, games, puzzles, and clothes. There were so many donations that one of the attendees volunteered to run to Target for more gift bags.
Children’s Hospital provided a list, appropriately called Wish List, of desired items for patients - infants up to teenagers. The atheist donors referred to this list when purchasing gifts and let others know what they were bringing so they didn’t buy too much of one item or over represent a particular age group.
The following week Jack Caravela, Dianne Caravela, Caroline Brunner, and I delivered the gifts to the Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. Each gift had a laminated tag attached to it with the Minnesota Atheists logo and the message: “Happy Holidays from your friends at Minnesota Atheists.”.
Andrew Douglass, a representative of the Child Life department at Children’s Hospital, met the four of us in the main lobby to accept the gifts. He was amazed at the amount of gifts we delivered and offered to take pictures to celebrate the moment.
Combined with our organization’s annual donation to The Bridge for Youth program at the Winter Solstice party, the Minnesota Atheists demonstrated that Christmas-time charity isn’t attached to believing in a virgin-birthed, half-god zombie. Thank you to everyone who contributed and donated, including those who couldn’t make the event but arranged to have me collect their donations. We hope to do this again next year!