The Rock Father Santa program (detailed here) has become one of my crowning achievements since launching this website, and an initiative that I look forward to each fall - the opportunity to provide some gifts for local families who could use a hand. We focus our efforts on the Township, working directly with a case worker who identifies families in the five towns/villages that they serve, later contacting select parents to come in and pick out some presents after we've made our yearly drop. One of the greatest joys is being able to take our girls out shopping for gifts that will eventually end up with children that we'll never know - in many ways, very much like Santa.
A private effort, this is funded by our family, alongside donations of cash used for purchasing toys (which I'm able to stretch via discounts), in addition to some in-kind donations of product. With each year, my desire is always to go bigger (we nearly doubled between 2014 & 2015), but in terms of overall numbers, 2016 was smaller, and I won't know until mid-January just how many kids and families we were ultimately able to help. Getting contributions of any kind this year was unusually difficult, and I fear it may signal some rough times ahead. While I choose to focus our efforts on a hyper-local basis, word is that bigger, national organizations like Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army were down this year as well - with some locations down by 50%. Additionally, the "Giving Tree" at our oldest daughter's school still had tags left going into break (we bought for two children from it), while last year it was empty by the first week of December. Are less people giving? Or, do people simply have less to give? Whichever the case, I hope that it changes down the line.
By the Numbers - Children & Families helped through the #RockFatherSanta initiative: 2016 TBD; 2015 - 61 children from 24 families; 2014: 37 children from 13 families.
Fortunately, The Rock Daughters™ are unaware of the logistics of these things, so they were thrilled to have another opportunity to do some shopping for other kids. As usual, we made our short trip north of the border at into Wisconsin for a stop at the Mattel Toy Store in Wilmot, taking advantage of a 50% Off ticket for Black Friday weekend, making the money go farther to scoop up some fun gifts for girls and boys alike!
As promised, our family rolled into the Township offices with a delivery on Cyber Monday, and much like Claus himself, we sped-off after the drop, with plans for 2017 already in our sights. It wasn't as big a delivery as I'd hoped, but the spirit of giving is shared with the girls, and hopefully the season is just a tiny bit brighter for some local families.
About our 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander "Sleigh" - Carrying on another part of our annual tradition, I like to do our annual toy shopping and delivery in a brand-new vehicle that serves as the four-wheeled "sleigh" for Rock Father Santa. This year I was happy to have the 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander as it was a vehicle that I'd been wanting to get featured here on the site as a follow-up to some previous posts - an opportunity to give some much-deserved props to the crew at Mitsubishi for stepping things up quite a bit. Back in 2014 and 2015, I was critical of the Outlander series - not because of function (they were solid), but because of style. What happened is that in 2016 the Outlander got a refresh, and that's carried over into the 2017 model. They took a great base of performance, safety and technology, and finally wrapped it into a package that I find very attractive in both style and price.
Rockin' the 2.4L 4-cylinder this time around, the 2017 Outlander scores a combined fuel economy of 26 mpg (24 city/29 highway), while squeezing a ton of standard features into the S-AWC (Super All-Wheel Control) package. The optional SEL Touring Package added about $4K to the model that I was driving, but it's a worthy expense considering those features include multi-view camera system, forward collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind-spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert (which I love), a heated steering wheel and more. Also factor in that third-row seating is available (albeit, the folding variety), and the generous cargo capacity, and you have a very competitive crossover that's worth a serious look.
It's also a very smooth and quiet ride...
The 2017 Mitsubishi Outlander starts at $23,495. As-driven, $32,390. Build and price yours at Mitsubishi Motors.