North Pole Back In Business

Hi Readers — Here’s a happy holiday gift: Santa sanity from the child-overprotecting world. You may recall last week’s story about  the closing of the North Pole Santa effort for fear of pedophiles mailing themselves to unsuspecting tots. (Or whatever the exact, irrational  “rationale” was.) Enjoy this well-written post about how it all turned out, from the blog  Strollerderby. — Lenore

One Feisty Dame Can Defeat a Dumb Idea

Dear Readers — Sometimes, one person standing up for sanity can make a difference. Here’s a cool lady:

Before retirement, I was a volunteer coordinator. My job was to find volunteers for all non-profit and government agencies in the county. We had a PenPal program which entailed matching about 35 senior citizens with an equal number of 5th grade students in a specific class. We worked with the same teacher for years. Letter-writing was one of the skills children were to learn, and our only personal contact was a school party at the end of the year, where the kids put on a play for their senior pen pals. During the year, they knew only each other’s first names. It was a great program on many levels. Many kids have no elder in their lives, no one to tell them the stories. Many seniors lack purpose, and their monthly letter from the kids was a huge emotional boost.

And then the laws changed.

Each of our pen pals was required to have a background check and a TB test. The background check alone cost $70, and many of our seniors simply couldn’t afford it. I went to our superintendent of schools, who will remain nameless for her protection, and showed her exactly how the program worked. On the spot she called board members for a conference call and we were given permission to continue our program. Action! Sanity!

When I was “room mother” in my children’s classrooms, I made a thousand cupcakes for various reasons. Now, the volunteers are required to bring only purchased snacks in containers sealed at the store. I didn’t poison anybody’s kid, and I know mine weren’t poisoned. How did we let this happen?!

More to the point: How did  they let you retire?! — Lenore