If you are like most of us, Christmas morning was filled with wads of wrapping paper and maybe a cup of holiday eggnog or two. For Cynthia Frost, her morning was flush with boxes and boxes of t-shirts to give to the needy of downtown Portland. Cynthia trudged through the ice and made good on her commitment of giving away hundreds of Little Bay Root tees and a mess more of her own. Cynthia is also a local t-shirt maker and former owner of "Jelly Bean" tees and gifts in PDX.
Cynthia approached us at a recent gift fair we attended and asked if we could help her out with some stock to give away to the disadvantaged on Christmas morning. With tears in both our eyes, she told me that she's been handing out Christmas gifts at the West end of the Burnside Bridge for years. She described the scenario...
"I set up a 10 foot table and arrange the tees by style and size. People line up, and wait patiently to select their tee. Some of these people haven't had a new item of clothing in their possession for years. To have a clean, new tee with tags on it...unheard of. I ask them if they would sign the guest book, partly for me, but mostly for them. It helps make the whole thing official, you know?Tears roll down their faces as they realize what I'm doing...and in turn, I end up sniffling all day as I am filled with their joy and gratitude".
I was away for Christmas this year, or I would have been right by Cynthia's side, balling my eyes out. When I met up with Cynthia after Christmas, she told me this year she had people lined up around the block and they were both more needy and thankful than ever. More tears rolled than ever. She told me that one homeless woman sat with her all day to keep her company, got her some lunch and coffee to keep things moving.
Here's to Cynthia and her beautiful self for getting people a little something for Christmas. Physically, it's just a t-shirt, but emotionally, it restores a little faith in humanity. "Humanity before politics", she'd say. "Love one another", I say.
Check out all the guests Cynthia helped out this year. Cheers, Cynthia!