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Orphans for Orphans, by Roland

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It was just after four thirty in the afternoon when a small truck pulled up outside a large gate.  Sitting above the gate was a sign reading 'St. Jerome's Home for Children'.  The driver looked at the two passengers and sighed.  "You both sure about this?"


They looked at each other, then back to the man.  The one sitting on the outside, said in a suffering tone.  "Yes Dad... we've discussed this sixty-three times since the idea was mentioned.  I think by now you should know we wanna do this."


Chuckling the man rolled down his window as he spoke.  "There you go using logic on an old man again..."  He reached out and pushed the button alerting the house that there was someone waiting.


Moments later they were coming to a stop in front of the main building, where a man in black, with a white collar was waiting for them.  When the three of them got out of the truck the man in black walked up to them and held out his hand to the man that was driving.  "Mr. Brothers?"


"Actually, Father, it's White. James White."  James said as he shook the priest's hand.  Seeing the confusion on the man's face he continued.  "These are my two foster sons, Jamie and Allen Brothers.  They are the ones that emailed with you about the details."


The priest's eyes went a little wide as he turned to the young teenagers standing there, and offered his hand.  "Jamie, you have done a wonderful thing here.  I just want to say thank you."


Blushing a bit Jamie shook the man's hand while he spoke.  "I... I just remember what it was like, and thought maybe we could do something."


"They don't know right?"  Allen asked quickly and excitedly.


The priest smiled and chuckled as he responded.  "No, they do not.  It was made clear in the emails, not to let them know."


Allen grinned widely as he almost bounced with excitement.  "This is gonna be so cool."


"Let's get it together boys.  We don't have a lot of time."  James said and the boys quickly went to work.  Out of the back of the truck came three eight-foot tables.  Then costumes by the dozen were brought out and laid on the tables.  Twenty minutes later, they were ready, and the priest returned to the building.  A few moments later two younger nuns walked out followed by a small army of children.  As soon as they saw what was there, the kids started shrieking with delight as they went about picking out the costume that they would wear.  A few of the very young ones even tried to put their costumes on right there in the driveway. 


Jamie, Allen and James cleaned everything up while the children went back inside to get into their costumes.  All three of them were touched by the young children's excitement.  Of course what was to come was going to be even more. 


It had taken Jamie and Allen more than a month to convince the orphanage to go along with their plans.  James had told them right from the beginning, when they approached him about the idea, that the boys would have to do all the work, but he would be happy to guide them.  He knew how important this was to them, and they even shocked him with everything they put together.  For the last month, their lives had been nothing but getting all this together. 


Less then an hour after they arrived, James was guiding the small truck out the gates, a large school bus following behind them.  They made their way across town and then pulled into the local high school, it was the only place with a big enough area to hold what the twins had wanted.  Thankfully there was an area near the doors that was marked off for them.  Two off duty police officers, responsible for parking and traffic control, moved the cones out of the way, and allowed the small truck and bus to park. 


As everyone was getting out of their vehicles, a small group of people left the school and came over to the group.  Father Cassidy walked over to the group just as James, and the twins got there.  "Is everything ready?"  Jamie asked, to which he got a bunch of smiles and nods. 


"Relax Jamie."  The lone adult said, a smallish woman with greying hair and a gentle smile.  "You've been planning this for a while now.  Everything is set up just like you wanted it." 


"Thank you Ms. Myers."  Jamie said before he remember the priest was standing there.  "Oh, umm... Father Cassidy, This is Ms. Myers, the principle here."


Father Cassidy smiled and extended his hand, which she shook.  "Thank you very much for allowing us to do this tonight."


Ms. Myers gently laughed as she shook his hand.  "I had nothing to do with this, other than agree to be here to oversee the events."


By now the youngsters were getting antsy, so Jamie walked over to them.  "Okay everyone, listen up."  He waited till the thirty kids between the ages of four and ten quieted down, then he spoke.  "There's gonna be lots of stuff for all of you to do tonight.  I ain't gonna tell you all, since it's a surprise, but once we open the doors you'll see signs directing you to everything we got.  I really hope you all enjoy tonight."


With his little speech over, Jamie walked over to the doors, and poked his head inside.  A moment later he turned around grinning.  "Okay!  We're ready!"  With that, the thirty kids all ran into the building.


An hour later, Father Cassidy was finally able to find James White, and Principle Myers talking together in the cafeteria that had been turned into a room full of games and activities for the kids.  "I have to say..."  He started when he was standing next to them.  "I wasn't sure what to expect from this.  I mean I though it would be a few games and such for the kids, but what you all have done here is nothing short of extraordinary."


James was the first one to shake his head.  "You have it all wrong Father Cassidy.  We didn't have anything to do with this.  It was all Jamie, Allen and their friends."


The priest gently shook his head in awe.  "That is incredible.  I am sure there is a story behind all this."


James nodded and took a deep breath.  "Yes... Yes there is.  It all started four years ago.  Jamie and Allen's parents were killed in a car accident three days before Halloween.  On Halloween they were placed in a group home, much like Saint Jerome's.  They spent the entire holiday season there, until my wife and I agreed to foster them.  Right after school started, they approached me with this idea.  I told them that they would have to do the work, but I would be happy to help in anyway I could."


"Then they approached me."  Ms Myers said with a fond smile.  "At first I was going to say no, but I decided to see what they could come up with.  They had a list of ideas, and questions that were not only well thought out, but showed a degree of organization that is rare in fourteen-year-olds.  It showed me just how much they wanted to do this.  So I agreed to advise them and gave my permission to use the schools gym for the night.  They ended up getting most of the school involved, and excited in a way that I have not seen in a long time.  They are both natural leaders, and even the older children will follow them. 


About three weeks ago we had an assembly, one that the twins asked for, and the entire school was there.  They laid out what they wanted to do, and even went so far as to tell everyone about what they were feeling when they stayed in the group home over the holidays.  They had more then a few of the young men in tears.  When they asked for volunteers, everyone did.  This has turned into more of a town-wide event, then just a small party.  They turned the gym into a hunted house, one of the kid's fathers brought in his tractor and a wagon for hay rides.  The twins managed to get everything donated, from the costumes to the materials for the haunted house, to the materials needed for the games in here."


"Absolutely incredible...."  Father Cassidy said with a shocked, but well pleased look. 


Just then, a small four or five year old girl, in a princess costume came running up to them.  "Fadder!  Lookie what I won!"  She nearly screamed as she held out a large stuffed bunny with long floppy ears.  The thing was nearly as tall as she was. 


He bent down and scooped both the girl and the bunny up into his arms.  "Thats wonderful Lisa.  Have you named your bunny yet?"


"Nottuh.. not yet..."  She said as she hugged the bunny to her.  He let he down, and she turned to run off again.  He had a moment to look around as he noticed something similar happening to the nuns that had  accompanied him.  He quickly wiped a tear from his eyes as he started to walk away.  "Thank you Lord for your children..." 


Far too soon, at least for the children, it was time to bring things to a close.  The had a costume judging contest, and then other prizes being handed out.  All the kids had gotten something, on top of the large bags of candy that they all received.  Finally though, everyone was standing together in the auditorium.  The kids from the orphanage were not the only ones there, but they were the ones that won the vast majority of the prizes.  All the other youngsters from the town knew what was going on, and no hard feelings were present. 


Jamie and Allen took to the stage to a loud cheering form everyone, but especially the kids from the orphanage.  They had all learned throughout the night that they were the ones to set this all up.  "Ladies and Gentlemen.... boys and girls... ghouls and goblins... princesses and fairies."  Allen started out.  "We want to thank you all for coming tonight.  I hope everyone had a great time!"


For the next minute everyone loudly cheered his comment, then allowed Jamie to take over.  "I know all of you want to get home and dig into the candy and prizes you won, so I'll keep this short."  He had to pause for the cheering, but not nearly as long.  "Father Cassidy, would you join us please."


A moment later the priest walked up to the applause of everyone in the room.  "First off,"  Jamie started, "I want to thank you for allowing the children of Saint Jerome's to join us tonight.  It would not have been nearly as much fun without them."  Loud cheering and applause interrupted him, as everyone, not from the home, applauded and cheered the children.  Many of them getting hugs and pats on the back from the other kids there.  "We all know that you do many wonderful things for the children under your care, with very little to work with."  Allen handed Jamie an envelope which he took with a big grin.  "With that in mind, the people of Caseyville got together and wanted to give you this."  Jamie handed the envelope to Father Cassidy as he shook the man's hand.  Many cameras flashed as they shook, and even more as the man opened the envelope, and withdrew the contents.  He almost dropped the check he held as he saw the amount written on it.  It took him several seconds before he could speak.


"Thank you... thank you so very much."  He said with tears in his eyes.  "This will go a long ways to help the children."  Once more the man looked down, praying that the amount he saw was actually what was there.  Again, he saw the amount of fifty thousand dollars.  Had he not been in public he would have wept. 


"Well it's time to clean up, and for the children to head on home."  Allen said as he looked out at everyone, then grinned even bigger.  "Hope to see everyone for Christmas!"



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