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ATPM 2.11
November 1996






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Apples, Kids, & Attitude

by Robert Paul Leitao,

Babies, Cribs, Popcorn & Braces

She approached the crib in a pensive manner. The woman bent down and cautiously looked at the pink and blue paper adornments. She carefully viewed each one and then, in a very sudden move, she reached out, grabbed one of the paper tags, placed it in her purse and quietly left the church.

This was a scene that repeated itself many times during the month of October. For the past two years I have set-up a "crib project" at my church community. It works as follows: I place a baby crib toward the front of the church, I decorate it with pink and blue teddy bear tags that describe essential baby items such as diapers, infant clothing and baby blankets. People are asked to take a tag, buy the item described, bring the item to church and place the item in the crib. The items are then distributed to organizations that work directly with women and families with crisis pregnancies. The project lasts exactly one month and for the past two years has been scheduled for October.

Many times I emptied the crib of donated items only to have it filled again by the generosity of people who simply wanted to help meet the needs of others. Although the project is a lot of work, I must admit that I enjoy doing it. What I like most is that it provides a wonderful and practical opportunity for people to help other people. Some of the items requested, such as baby soap or lotion, are items that can be purchased with a manufacturer's coupon for less than a dollar. Thus, virtually no one is excluded from an opportunity to give and every item purchased and returned to the crib will not only be used but also tangibly affect the well being and quality of life of an infant or very young child.

As I mentioned, the way people initially approach the crib decorated with teddy bear tags is quite familiar. So, too, are the broad smiles and more relaxed postures as each person finds a teddy bear tag describing an item they can contribute. Many people, in all walks of life, are very happy to have an opportunity to directly help others especially a single mother or small family that's struggling to meets the needs of a newborn or soon-to-be-born baby.

The couple who came up with the idea for the crib project had a dream. They very much wanted to have children. Unfortunately, they were unable to have a child of their own. The crib project was their way of helping others who were able to have children, but who might not have ample material means to support them. Life can often work in funny ways. This couple, whom I now consider friends, hoped for a child for well over a decade. Last year, through the crib project at their church, they met a young woman who was pregnant with twins and was searching for adoptive parents. My friends adopted the twin boys.

Another reason that I like the crib project is because it's something that Matthew, Jessica and I do together. Everyday they were with me during October, we would go to the church together and gather the items. At home, we prepare them for delivery to various organizations which work directly with women and families beset with a crisis pregnancy. Like my friends, I also have a dream. It's a dream I've shared with Matthew and Jessica. Each day at church, Jessica looked for the pencil and paper by the prayer box so that I could write it down. Each day after I slipped the piece of paper in the box we asked all of Heaven to hear the request.

Each of us has dreams. Some are big dreams and some are small ones. In our August issue (2.08), I wrote that the last few years have been a time of transition for me. But through it all I've kept hoping for one dream in particular. That dream is also the desire of my heart. I mentioned earlier that the holidays are a very special time. We allow ourselves to be more generous, more outgoing, more jovial and a bit more fun. It's also a time many of us find renewed hope for the world and our own personal dreams, goals and desires.

Over the past eleven months Mac users have had an edge-of-the-seat ride through the ups and downs of Apple's restructuring and management changes. By the end of this calendar year a whole new generation of Macintosh computers will have been brought to market, a healthy and expanding clone market better developed and a more focused and deliberate business strategy and corporate model established. In short, it's been an exhilarating and fast-paced year of change for Apple Computer and Macintosh users. The company today is structured and is operating in a way that many of us would not have envisioned eleven months ago. But in many ways the company is much better at what it does and much more efficient in the manner by which it does it.

While many of us may not have thought that Apple Computer would be structured as it is today, we do know that the company again has a profit and is continuing to innovate its hardware products and improve the much-coveted Mac OS. In my view the company will continue to make changes and improve its products, so much so that I also believe another year from now many more things about Apple Computer will have undergone a major revision. The continuing development of the Mac OS and further advancements in computer hardware technology will again reshape how we use computers and the way in which we communicate. Because of the recent changes at Apple, the company will once again be at the forefront of innovation.

Several months ago I decided to finally get a set of braces. This was not an overnight decision. In fact, it had been postponed for about twenty years. I have been known to procrastinate and this may serve as a prime example of that habit. What I didn't know was that in addition to wearing the braces, there were certain foods I could not eat, including one of my favorite snacks — hot-air popped corn. It also meant an end to carbonated beverages. I don't mind cutting up apples and steaming my vegetables, but I do miss the popcorn (although I have been known to sneak a few kernels when I make some for the kids). I mention this simply because what I first envisioned by this decision has turned out to be more of a change than I expected. This isn't necessarily bad, just different. As a result of the changes in the way that I think about and prepare food, my diet has improved, too. I'm much more choosy about what I eat and the prefix "junk" does not apply to the foods now stored in my kitchen.

When I purchased the computer for Matthew and Jessica, I had in mind certain software titles for education and play. As I sit down to do my Christmas shopping, CD catalogs containing children's titles are now part of my gift selection repertoire. The decision to buy them a computer is still one of the best decisions I've made this year. It's also turned out to be more of a decision than I originally expected. You can be sure that under our tree will be at least one children's software title for each of them. They very much like this interactive approach to learning about the world.

When I decided to do the crib project, I had only read about it, although I talked at length with the couple who first developed the idea. It was difficult getting people excited about a project no one had ever seen.

But, from the moment the crib was put on display with its pink and blue teddy bear tags, the project was a success. By the end of the month several hundred items were contributed by people who dared to dream that they could help make life a little better, one baby item at a time.

In some cases, donated items became the first baby gifts received by a woman who was pregnant and alone, abandoned by her own family. Other new mothers were able to keep their newborns warm during the colder winter months with donated blankets, pajamas and socks. The project had captured the hearts and minds of a church community. Their gifts helped meet the needs, and sometimes fulfill the dreams of a first-time mother or small family.

This Christmas, under our tree, along with the educational CD-ROMs, the other nicely wrapped gifts and cute little packages from Kindergarten and pre-school projects that were brought home just in time for Christmas, there will be a little envelope. Inside will be written the seventeen words that I would write everyday and place in the prayer box. These words are a hopeful reminder that my dreams may still come true.

Just the other day I saw my friends (the couple who initially developed the idea for the crib project) and their twin boys. This was a wonderful opportunity for us to talk and laugh. They had just been to the doctor's office for an "ultrasound" evaluation. It appears that the twins will soon have a younger brother! Dreams do come true. Sometimes in ways we never imagined they would.

Feliz Navidad. Happy Chanukah. Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Wishing you a Macintosh on every desk and a dream fulfilled for every heart.

"Apples, Kids and Attitude" is © 1996 by Robert Paul Leitao, [apple graphic]

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