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Column: Celebrating holiday miracles

The great thing about the holiday season is that if you step back and take a look around, you start to really appreciate all the mini-miracles that seem to happen.

I had that thought Sunday afternoon. I was at the Legion with The Beau and friends. We were watching the Vikings win (a mini-miracle in itself), and having a fun, relaxing Sunday afternoon.

I should backtrack, first. At our last American Legion Auxiliary meeting, I'd asked our members if we wanted to make a donation to Toys for Town this year. We had last year -- a couple of new members had gone out and solicited donations. But we hadn't done the fund-raising this year that we'd done last year and were a little shy of our contribution.

Now we can fast-forward to Sunday. Last year's two "new" members were at the Legion to watch football, too. I asked if they'd go out and work their magic, to see if we could drum up some money to help Toys for Town.

Toys for Town is one of those near-and-dear projects for me. I don't do so much with it anymore -- the Auxiliary and The Beau are occupying most of my free time these days -- but it wasn't all that long ago I was spending a lot of time shopping for Farmington's teens, helping set up the night before, wrapping, making deliveries and just about everything else. The past couple of years I've just done the wrapping part, but that doesn't mean I've lost any of my love for Toys for Town.

Look around at our neighboring communities, and you're pretty hard-pressed to find another with such a far-reaching program. I can't think of how many families have benefited from the generosity of Farmington residents. I'm pretty sure "a lot" is an understatement.

Our two enthusiastic volunteers went out not once, but twice during the game. With a Poppy Day bucket in hand, they stopped by every table and barstool in the joint. They asked if people could give a couple of bucks for Farmington's Toys for Town gift drive.

And here's where another of those mini-miracles happened: People did. They gave. They gave $100 at halftime. And another $43 after the game. It was awesome.

The Beau and I drove through downtown Sunday morning. He, being a St. Paul native, isn't used to close-knit community life. When we drove by the Community Christmas Tree that was put up and decorated during Saturday's Dazzle Day festivities, he thought it was pretty darned cool. People don't put up big trees like that in his neighborhood. It happens downtown St. Paul, sure, but not over where he lives. Come Monday, I got an e-mail about the Cookie Walk that was held for Warrior to Citizen out at Trinity Terrace on Sunday. From what I understand, it was a huge success. The participants delivered trays of cookies to 35 military families in the area, up from 18 last year. Plus they made more than $200 for Warrior to Citizen.

The e-mail went on to talk about how the Farmington Ministerial Association took up a collection during the annual ecumenical Thanksgiving Service and brought in $568 for Warrior to Citizen. Fifty veterans were signed up for the monthly free dinner that is held for vets at various churches around the community.

I think Farmington is lucky to have so many great people in it. To have a police department that cares enough about the families and the kids in this town to plan a gift drive for more than a quarter of a century. To have folks who give their time, energy and money to help others in their community. To have people just give and give because it's the right thing to do.

Christmas is the season of giving and it's the season of miracles. Both are alive and well here in Farmington, and I couldn't be more pleased.