Operation: A Cajun Christmas

News letter updates

December 13, 2005

At the top of the stretch we looked strong and from that point as we turned for home we just pulled away with every stride. We are only a few yards away from the wire now looking like Secretariat ahead by 40 lengths, we simply can not be caught; we have won this great race on a horse powered by the compassion of each and every one of you.

On Friday December 9th on a FULL Tractor Trailer donated by Bee Line logistics, inc. of Champlain NY and arranged for with the great help of NYSCAA under the leadership CEO Ron Deutsch, his staff and board left for our friends in Vermilion Parish Abbeville, La.

Just one week before Gail Kyler (who just did an enormous amount of work on this project) and I were at Lake Ave. (Saratoga Springs) school with a truck donated by Roohan Realty picking the results of a school wide toy and gift drive. You can find several articles from our local papers here on our web-site front page. The very next day I left for Long Island and the home of Co-founder Aaron Gryder with a great friend frank Caridi in a brand new 27’ U-Haul arranged for by the hard work Frank and the generosity of U-Haul of Albany NY.

Our first stop was to Aqueduct race track to watch Aaron ride. After the races we were off first stop
G&R Electronics & Appliances
114 Liberty Ave. Richmond Hill NY
718- 641-5455

where we able to purchase at a great savings with great donations by a joint fund raiser by Shenendehowa and Guilderland (both from upstate NY) wrestling teams and a very generous donation by Mac Brownson Brownson Enterprises inc. this incredible list of electronics for The Vermilion Parish Foster Care home, The Vermilion Parish Nursing Home, The Vermilion Parish Hospital Children's ward and The Vermilion Parish Domestic Abuse woman and children's home.

Next stop off to NJ to meet our NJ community leader Jeannine Ryan there we picked up because of her help and the help or her friends and their generosity and that of the local Radio Shack a huge amount of toys and gifts. Also included in this was 3 large boxes of very special hand packed packages, 200 in all by a wonderful woman from NJ.

The last stop back to Long Island and a good nights rest at Aaron, Karen, Christian and Grace's home. The next day we loaded the gifts that filled Aaron's garage donated by so many including 2 schools in Long Island who healed school wide toy drives and the incredible John Theissen Children's Foundation (please take the time to read about John and his wonderful foundation) just to name a few.

When the truck was loaded we filled this 27 foot truck from front to back, just an incredible site, and we were back to upstate.

The next day I was off to NYSCAA to meet Ron Deutsch and his staff and unload in their warehouse our first load. That night with the help of my kind neighbors and my son Azurah (mommy was in Ca on business) we loaded this 27 foot truck again this time even fuller!!!

The sight of all these thousands of gifts as incredible and one I wish I could have shared with everyone from NY/ NJ who helped as I wish I could list every name and donation. From the local book club toy drive, to Sue Johnson's hard work, Rhaenel's baby doll drive, so many schools and families did so much, the list is long and the pure love and compassion was great. In the end the NY/NJ load was a full tractor trailer.

From our community leader in Fla. Johnna May and her family and friends and with the help of Radio Station WQYK Tampa, Fl have a truck also on it's way to our friends in Vermilion. Johanna worked tirelessly to get this done never giving up when it seemed she could not pull it together, in the end she and all there did. GREAT Job!!

For a better run down of just some of the people, groups, foundations and businesses etc. that helped and how they did please look at these pages page A & Page B I am so sorry I have not listed everyone for all you did.

There is nothing more I, Aaron and Sweet Mom Macie and everyone from vermilion Parish would love then to have each and everyone of you there on Dec 16-18, there for the Christmas parade, there for the "A Cajun Christmas festival" named for what we did. There to see the joy in the faces young and old alike, the look in the eyes of a child who has a toy and knows Santa did not forget about him/her no matter what happened. The look of ease and relief in the eyes of a parent who can now rest a bit knowing his/her child is safe and happy.

Many of us are going down to celebrate with our friends in Vermilion Parish and with us is every single one of you. All of us working together, every single person who helped and gave even to the smallest child or gift made this magic happen.

I am sad to report my great friend and co-founder Aaron Gryder can not be there with us as he is off to the UAE and Dubai for a few days of very big races. As sad as I am that he will not be standing there with me and that proud of him.

A HUGE thank you and way to go goes to Bruce and Sharon, (also their kids, parents and whole family) for this great website and all they have done.

A huge thank you goes to our team in Vermilion Parish lead by our co-founder Glenda "Mom Macie" Sellers also Francis Plaisance, Cheryl Landry, Reba Broussard, Catherine T. Miller, Jackie Trahan - Renee Chiasson Jason and everyone at Abbeville Police Department, Vermilion Parish Sheriff Office, Concepts of Care, Vermilion Catholic High School and so many more.

All they have been through and they have done and are doing a great job there.

Thanks to all the late cash and gift card donations that have allowed us to adopt several families outside of Vermilion Parish including in La, Texas and Mississippi.

Allow me to leave you with this true story demonstrating just how all this was meant to be. My great wife, Azurah and my neighbors Devin and Deb spent Thanksgiving in NYC. On their return Devin told me this story. He and Deb and the kids stood watching the Macys' Thanksgiving Day Parade. Devin heard someone talking next to him, it was a small woman clearly speaking in a heavy Cajun accent. he asked "Where are you from?" She responded " I am from Vermilion Parish, La". Devin respond " Oh that is where Operation: A Cajun Christmas is going" The lovely Cajun woman responded " Oh my you know about Operation: A Cajun Christmas is going? We are so excited about it".

The lovely Cajun woman was the Clerk of Court, Diane Meaux Broussard a friend of Mom Macie and someone helping a great deal.

There were 2.5 million people Macys' Thanksgiving Day Parade, on this day 2 friends of mine meet a friend from Vermilion. There are no real walls that separate us only the ones we create in our minds, we are all interconnected, all interdependent. We are all family who share this rock and this reality.

The future of this foundation is to each year enter and help a community in need, community helping community, family helping family.

We are almost at the wire, we can not be caught.

We did it, we did it.

May you and all beings be well and happy. May you have a happy holiday and know that you in your acts of compassion have helped change the world.

We did it, we did it.

Mark, Aaron and Mom Macie

"If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility." ---- [Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]

Santa graphics courtesy of: The Santa Lady http://www.santalady.com