Eric Conklin - Use this One

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This holiday season, I invested in a pink tyke bike. 

I visited a Walmart eager to buy my first child's toy in about 15 years, unaware of what it would be. Scurrying through the store’s possibilities with my indecisiveness, I passed a guy with the bike, flaunting its pink finish and flower sticker decor, in his shopping cart, thinking, "I've got to have that.” 

It was one of the only times I managed to buy a toy without hesitation from my mother, when I often needed a defiant tug on her pant leg to convince her otherwise. Even for a 25-year-old man with extra pounds, it was the year’s ideal, had-to-have item, but not to benefit my lack of cardio. 

The bike was hopefully going to a roughly 3-year-old girl on behalf of Toys for Tots. It was the first time in several years a toy purchased by me would help jam one of the toy drive's boxes, this one in the Absecon American Legion building’s scarcely packed parking lot. I hoped that fear somewhere in the community about Santa’s uncertain arrival would be silenced. 

I know that come Christmas morning, a child will be joyful on my behalf; a child, whose caregivers may have been economically ravaged by the world's newfound adversary, can rejoice by knowing 2020 isn't as devastating a year as it may seem. 

Toys for Tots is, once again, making headlines, but is, unfortunately, reporting donations are scarce this year, citing economic strain and Covid restrictions hindering donation events.  

Some, like in Pierce County, Washington, have only reached roughly half of their season's goal, as of Dec. 6. I hope that by Christmas, more will have come about, but if not, there’s hope for next year and beyond. 

Pain in countless voices yielded a change in me this year. The adversity 2020 forced on countless people is unintentionally necessary - although some may feel otherwise - in that it has prompted a change in how to treat others.  

I heard more I love yous this year and saw more folks eager to support foreigners to their bubble, especially at Thanksgiving. 

If there's anything this year instilled, it's a newly infused desire to help neighbors in trouble, even when the world isn't battered by a pandemic unseen in over a century. 

Somewhere, locally, or not, a child will know that there's a reason to believe that life for my family will improve. Others will know, through a young girl’s bike, there’s reason to believe this year has commissioned the world on a path to unity. 

ED. NOTE: The author is the editorial assistant at the Cape May County Herald. To contact Conklin, email econklin@cmcherald.com

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