As I watched The Today Show this morning, tears streamed down my face during the "Getting to the Heart of Christmas" segment. Annually, The Today Show teams up with Walmart to bestow a surprise Christmas gift to several communities across the country. This morning's story really hit a nerve because it was focused on the an elementary school in Queens, NY P.S.-114. At 9:30am a moment of silence was held for the victims of the Newton shooting and it was inevitable that my thoughts drifted to the 26 lives lost just a week ago.
But the story of P.S. 114 is a joyous one. P.S. 114 is located in Rockaway, Queens a community totally descimmated by Hurricane Sandy. Houses are gone and lives are lost in the community and the school was flooded by 10 feet of water virtually destroying everything in it's wake. After being out of school for three weeks, the children returned. It was totally heartbreaking to hear a little Maisie say "I just want my regular life." Music was an integral part of the school and all of the instruments were lost. But the children still are able to sing and during a rendition of a Today Show intro they were surprised by a Walmart truck,
35 associates, and Nick Cannon. The children were given new instruments for the school and all of them received an iPod and new headphones.
The children's faces reflected their joy and happiness. A semblance of normality has returned to their lives. In addition to the instruments, the gym has been filled with new equipment and the art room has new art supplies. In all, over $100,000 worth of supplies were provided to P.S. 114. I was given the opportunity to speak with Seacaucus Walmart store manager Joe Schmidt about the event.
It was indeed a pleasure to speak to Mr. Schmidt and I personally thanked him for all of the work devoted to P.S. 114. I was moved not just by the physical gifts but the gift of time given by him and all of the associates that worked on the project. Finding time in the midst of the holiday season to do this is truly "Getting to the heart of Christmas." Rockaway is just one of the communities that have been blessed this year by The Today Show and Walmart. You can see how an inner-city arts program in Los Angeles and Bishop Martin and the community of Possom, Trot Texas were helped this year by clicking here.
These stories make my heart sing and I'm so happy that The Today Show and Walmart made such a positive impact on these communities.
Disclosure: I am a Walmart mom and have been compensated for my time and effort writing this post.