Every year felt the same.
And, yet, something was missing.
The holidays approaching -- or passing -- and the sisters-in-law pondering once again just how much they have and just how much their kids have and just what they could do to make Christmas better for other kids.
“Our children are so very blessed and we are so very blessed,” says Amber Roemer, the sister-in-law who came up with a way to spread the love. “We just have a sweet spot for kids and were trying to think of a very, very easy way to connect with them.”
It was fall 2015 when Roemer started thinking about what might be the perfect project for three busy moms. Something simple and streamlined.
Something like gallon-sized baggies filled with goodies -- each one tailored to the age of a child in need.
How does that sound?, she asked her husband’s sisters.
Gretchen Wrenholt and Heidi Moyer were all in.
And the three women got down to business. Sending out Facebook event invitations, asking for donations: A handful of age-appropriate items (as few as five, as many as seven) sealed inside clear plastic bags.
Coloring books and crayons, stickers and storybooks, colored pencils and chalk. Teething rings and body wash for babies. Key chains and note pads and nail polish for older kids.
Anything the givers thought a kid might enjoy at Christmas. Like stocking stuffers without the stocking.
They called it the ABC Drive, short for Appreciate & Bless a Child. That first year, an avalanche of bags showed up at their Lincoln homes. From friends -- and friends of friends -- and as far away as western Nebraska and New York.
A bunch of Brownies put together nearly 100 bags -- Go, Sheridan Troop No. 20772! A women’s church group filled up bags as their holiday project.
Fellow moms and dads came through.
The women delivered the 356 gallon bags of goodies to agencies across town. Cedars Home for Children and the People’s City Mission and Friendship Home.
They got to meet some of the parents and some of the children, too.
“The first year was absolutely spectacular,” Roemer said. “People were so excited.”
Then 2016 came around. Roemer and Wrenholt had new babies. They didn’t have the energy to devote to ABC and they didn’t harness their savvy social media skills quite as effectively. “We were down but we’re trying to build it up,” Roemer said. “Whatever we get is a win.”
Although: “Our goal is 400 bags,” Wrenholt said Monday, home with 1-year-old Karsten and 3-year-old Isaac, and a handful of just-delivered bags.
She peered at them as she chatted. Erasers shaped like fast food menu items. (“The cutest things ever.”) Sparkly paper. Calculators and rulers. A journal.
Packages have showed up with a Barrel of Monkeys game stuffed inside and cans of Playdough. Small puzzles. Books and bookmarks. Gloves and hats, makeup and earbuds and iPhone cases.
Anything you think a child would be happy to get at Christmas, Wrenholt said.
And by you, I mean us.
If you can help these moms reach their 2017 ABC goal of 400 bags, please do.
“Even if you donate one bag,” Roemer said. “If you just go to the dollar store, you can donate a bag for five dollars.”
Bags suitable for babies, toddlers, preschoolers all the way up to teens (please, more bags for older kids) are welcome.
If you feel inclined to give, contact Roemer at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And thank you, thank you in advance from three blessed sisters-in-law who are doing their simple best to pass it on.