Hey all - since you guys were a major assist in accomplishing this, I thought you might want to see the results;
(click on the thumbnails for the larger picture)
First, we have the group shot - where we take all the toys we've purchased and that were donated by others and gather them for a group shot:
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/shriner'sgroupshot.jpg" height=300 width=300>
(Sadly, the majority of the comics were in the longboxes supporting the middle section of toys - but we'll see them later.)
So, after the picture was taken, we boxed everything up (for easier transport) and loaded it into our van and a friend's car. It was a difficult drive, as the only windows I could see out of were the front and the driver's side seat window. But I'll let the pictures tell that story:
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/van1.jpg" height=300 width=300>
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/van2.jpg" height=300 width=300>
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/van3.jpg" height=300 width=300>
And my partner in crime's smaller vehicle was also loaded:
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/car1.jpg" height=300 width=300>
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/car2.jpg" height=300 width=300>
Our destination? Shriner's Burns Institute in Cincinnati, OH. We'd be headed to the main activity center, where the tree would be located. Santa was due to arrive at 1:00PM on Christmas Eve (the next day), so we had a lot of work to do here and only a few scant hours to do it. We did pause a moment to take some pictures of the community area, though:
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/insideshriner's1.jpg" height=300 width=300>
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/insideshriner's2.jpg" height=300 width=300>
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/insideshriner's3.jpg" height=300 width=300>
Once we arrived at Shriner's, it was time for the load-in phase. We placed all the toys on carts, and met up with the nurses and volunteers of Shriner's Burns Institute. Although we would be assisting, they had the unenviable task of first inspecting and then wrapping a good portion of what we were bringing to them.
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/loadin1.jpg" height=300 width=300>
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/loadin2.jpg" height=300 width=300>
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/loadin4.jpg" height=300 width=300>
(Those two longboxes on the bottom of the cart? Yep, those are from KC. I also received another long box, 1/2 from Zach and the other half from a friend - GREAT WORK, guys!)
After these pictures, we all got very busy. However, when it came time to deliver one certain item, it required that I return to the home with an empty van, and bring back three items. Assembley was required for the furniture piece of it, and the initial setup was also handled by me (not too many tech savvy folks at the Hospital that day). So, I headed up to the Activity Room:
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/activityroom.jpg" height=300 width=300>
And roughly an hour later, had completed the setup of this:
<img src="http://www.ricbyrne.com/ToyDrive2k5/xboxsetup.jpg" height=300 width=300>
THANK YOU ALL FOR MAKING THIS POSSIBLE! WITHOUT YOU, THIS PORTION WOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED!
As a side note, after I had setup the Xbox, we cleaned up and prepared to leave. I knew that the kids wouldn't get to see the Xbox 360 right away, as they had to inspect it first. So, I packed up and went back to the van in the parking lot. As I pulled out of the lot, one of our assistants for the day came out of the entrance, waving frantically. I assumed I must have forgotten something, or left something behind, so I stopped as she ran to the car.
"Come inside," she said. "You've got to see this."
Confused, I followed, leaving the car running, blocking the exit from the parking lot (luckily, I don't think anyone else needed to leave before I returned). The volunteer rushed me up the steps, explaining along the way - it seems that they decided to rush the inspection, so that the kids would get to play it as soon as possible. We walked up to the viewing window into the Activity Room, and there I saw it - four kids already having a blast, playing one of the racing games.
Thank you all. That moment was something far beyond what I expected. For even a few moments, those kids completely forgot the reasons why they were there, instead they were thoroughly thrilled, excited and chattering out phrases like "Cool!" and "Did you see THAT!" to each other. Even now, I'm starting to tear up a little just thinking about it.
I owe every one of you who donated to this cause. I'd actually like to thank all of you by name, but I know that some of you wanted to remain anonymous - so I'll just have to satisfy myself with this.
I'll *never* forget this.