The Importance of Giving

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Flashback to November 1979. I was a lonely fat kid with no friends. Sure, little has changed since then, except I’m old now. And married. But let’s focus on this dream sequence.


I desperately circled page 52 in the Sears catalog and left it open on the table. Revealing for all passing parents to see the singular most important thing I wanted – no, NEEDED – that year: the General Electric Walkie Talkie with Morse Code key and Base Station.

This would fill the empty hole in my soul. This marvel of technological wonder would set everything right in my young miserable life. After all, who had these things? Cops. Secret agents. Commandos. And, if there was a Santa Claus at all in this horribly cruel world, so would I on the morning of December 25.

So I set the catalog down where my parents could see it (and in turn, show it to Santa) and waited. And hoped.

Then Christmas came. Lo and behold, there was a gift-wrapped box about the size and shape of the box I had spied at Sears in between trying on steel-belted husky-sized Toughskin pants. This. Was. It.

I tore that box open with all the speed and care of Cookie Monster omnomnomming his way through a pack of cookies. That is to say, debris everywhere, with a look of wild-eyed immense joy emblazoned across my face.

And there it was, the General Electric Walkie Talkie with Morse Code key and base station. I hastily installed the 9-volt battery into the walkie talkie and the 6 C-sized batteries into the base station. Which is when it all hit me like a ton of bricks: I was a loner. With ONE walkie talkie.

The thing about cops, secret agents and commandos? They’re plural. There’s more than one of them, and they all have walkie talkies. So they can, you know, talk to each other. I was a fat loner kid in husky Toughskin pants with the technology to talk to myself.

What I’m trying to say is that I got what I wanted that Christmas, but there are so many kids out there who don’t get the presents they want, if they get any presents at all.

Have you ever seen the looks on a child’s face when they were expecting to not have a Christmas at all? It is magic.

So that’s where you come in.

Maybe you have a lot. Maybe you have a little. But surely you have more than those who have nothing. How can you help? Well, the United States Marine Corps conduct their yearly Toys For Tots drive that gets toys out to less fortunate children. You can find out where the local collection is at their website.


If you’re in Southern California, may I suggest a couple other ways? Since I’m a comedian, these will be comedy related events, where you can help the kids and also enjoy a show in return for your generosity.

First, my buddy Mike Vinn is a former Marine and stand-up comic down in San Diego. He’s been doing this show for 10 years at the La Jolla Comedy Store. Some very funny comics on the show and all you need to do is bring an unwrapped new toy (or a $20 donation) and you can enjoy the laughs for free. The USMC will be there collecting the toys/donations. DETAILS HERE.

Second, Jamie Masada owns the Laugh Factory chain of comedy clubs, and is no stranger to helping out those in need. Every year, he opens his club in Hollywood to serve Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to those who would not otherwise be able to afford one.

But also, he’s doing a toy drive at the Long Beach club for a whole month, from November 20 through December 22, in conjunction with Miller Children’s Hospital. Bring an unwrapped new toy (value of at least $10) and you’ll receive a ticket to use at the Laugh Factory in Long Beach. DETAILS HERE.

There’s your mission. Brighten a child’s holiday. Feel better. See a show. Feel even better.

Pretend I’m calling you on my walkie talkie and asking you to help. Respond and be the friend I never had when I was younger.


{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Kento November 23, 2017, 9:15 am

    Holy shit! I bought one of those in 81 or 82 at a yard sale to sell at the flea market! I used it for 2 weeks before puttING it on sale. I think I paid about 5 bucks, got 8 for it if I recall right

    • Paul Ogata November 23, 2017, 9:19 am

      My childhood scars were on sale for a profit of $3? Wonderful news.

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