Today I’m joining my friend Rheanna and her 5 yr old daughter Paloma as they run around San Francisco giving holiday cheer in partnership with Uber…
Growing up, my family would always incorporate acts of service in our holiday plans. Often, my parents would pick a family from our school or church congregation that needed some financial help, and buy gifts for their family. We would wrap them up with notes and sweets, and leave them on the porch. It was such a wonderful part of the holiday, and I have such fond memories of our family working together for a good cause.
It’s been an important holiday tradition to continue in my own family and I’m always looking for new and personal ways to accomplish service. I have so many friends that do such inspiring acts of service with their children this time of year, that I thought it would be fun to document such an outing with Uber. Rheanna and Paloma came to mind. You might remember Rheanna and her sweet daughter Paloma from our piece about country vs city living as a single mom.
Rheanna and Paloma live in San Francisco and don’t own a car, so getting around quickly and efficiently often means taking an Uber. Running errands, evening events, and sometimes to and from school if Paloma can’t catch the school bus because of early morning meetings. Convenience and flexibility are both huge reasons we love using Uber to run around the city, while also using the travel time to catch up on work emails throughout the day instead driving in city traffic.
Today we’re joining Rheanna and Paloma as they make holiday cards, pick out some toys to donate through SF Firefighters Toy Drive, and then deliver them at the fire station. Paloma has such a huge heart. Rheanna told me this sweet story about when her mom offered her money to pick out a few Christmas gifts for family, Paloma said she wanted to give it to the house-less instead. “She definitely considers them her neighbors and friends. On the holidays when we might have an excess of food, we’ll take walks to deliver hot plates and spend some time with our neighbors and friends who don’t have the same. I feel really lucky to have a daughter with such a compassionate and empathetic spirit for others.”
First, I met them at their home in the mission to decorate cards to give with the gifts. I brought some stickers, paper, glitter and tape as well but Paloma already had a whole plan in place for these cards. I love a girl who knows exactly what she wants! Rheanna and I caught up while we decorated some cards as well (those glitter pens are so addicting to play with!).
Rheanna started a new, demanding job a few months ago that’s been challenging to manage as a single mother. The tight knit community in her neighborhood (and former nanny living across the street) is the saving grace and makes such a difference for her daughter. “Paloma’s often asking to make cards, bake treats, and give gifts to the house-less who live near us. Sometimes we all just sit on the sidewalk and talk for an hour. We take walks to ask what they need and to deliver hot meals.”
Next, we jump in an Uber and head out to pick out some toys. Multi-tasking is one thing I love about taking Ubers. Rheanna catches up on a few work emails and we plan out exactly what and who we’ll be looking to shop for in the toy store. “A girl, age 5” was Paloma’s suggestion (okay, this will be easy!). We headed to little store called Cliff’s Variety in the heart of the Castro, a couple blocks from where Paloma goes to school. She marches along the sidewalk with attitude, and knowing right where to go, “Follow me!”
When we arrived we had some hard decisions to make. Barbies? But, they all looked so skinny. And not very diverse. A barbie HORSE? Who wouldn’t love that (Paloma told her mom to add it to her wish list). A music box? A unicorn tea set? Playdough sets? I picked up one set “everyone loves playdough sets!” but Paloma suggested another, “this is the one you want”, she explained. Done. We picked out some playdough sets, the unicorn tea set, a music box, and head out.
Next we jumped in an Uber to the fire station. I love this tradition of fire stations offering toy donation boxes. We’ve done toy donation drop boxes in other stores, but this feels really special, and they’re so happy to have you come. You get a tour around the station, a few high fives, and even a seat in the fire truck! Outgoing Paloma was so timid in front in the station house, but warmed up for a picture as we left. I really want to take my kids to do the same.
It was such a rewarding morning to spend them Rheanna and Paloma. Made me happy to be part of such a small, but meaningful act of holiday service. Rheanna explains, “I think it’s especially important to build a practice of service around the holidays. Because it’s a time of gift-giving, it’s easy for kids to lose focus of others and think just about their own wish lists. Creating a tradition and routine of service, especially during the holidays, builds a deeper sense of gratitude for what we have.” I agree, and am feeling so inspired to share the morning with these two beautiful souls!