Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Jars Story: 'I have done 10 jars in the last 5 years'

Readers, I am delighted to share this very special Christmas Jars story. It's from an incredible man in Nevada who embraces the spirit of the Christmas Jar as well as anyone I've ever met. If I could have one wish, it would be that everyone believed in the magic of the jar as much as Daniel does.

Henderson, Nevada:

First of all, I was diagnosed as high functioning autistic at the age of 9, when the number of kids diagnosed was 1 in 10,000 high functioning. This meant I could do well academically, but socially I had trouble getting the courage to talk to anyone. The differences between me and those around me didn't make themseleves apparent to me at the time, but for many years before my parents saw them. Looking back on it, there were times that was so bad with social situations I didn't even want to say the teacher's name out of fear or ask to go to the bathroom because I thought they would say no. Despite this, I continued to accel in academics, kind of a "sport" you could say I competed in. As elementary school ended I started to get what we call fallouts. Many times I would get upset over times when everyone got punished for a few's mistakes. That said , I would cry in the corner holding those sentiments. Later on in middle and High School I would get that way still, but I would try to work it out with myself, and try to see it from the teacher's point of view. I needed my Dad less and less though he would still come to my progress meetings with special ed facilitators. As this time progressed, I saw the autism as a part of me, but I continued to progress enough until, when someone looked at me, they couldn't even tell.

Through all of this, something troubled my parents. Given what I had, and the difficulties with it, they wondered if I would ever graduate High school. From the get go, I proved many people wrong. The chance arose that I wouldn't have been able to live a very normal life. The social problems didn't deter me from graduating and in the end I was able to graduate with a 4.2 GPA and with an advanced diploma. Then came college. There were still things that I had to have accomodations for, like tests, but I didn't need that sometimes. It wasn't easy getting through some of these classes, but I got through them, and was able to in 4 years graduate from junior college with a 3.64 GPA, enough for high honors.

It was around the beginning of college that I started into the Christmas Jars program. I mentioned that it started out in a Sunday school class I was in. In my ability with math and like seeing how high some numbers get, I took on the challenge. In doing so, I wanted to make sure there wasn't a week without money going in it since it took the entire year to do. So with some benefits of the autism and the ability for me to care about some things more than maybe is necessary. I'm a little obsessive. I kept going along with my classmates, inspiring someone else in our class to do one on her own. Since then I have done 10 jars in the last 5 years, splitting them evenly into two the first year, two the second year, four in the third year, and three in the fourth year. For this year I am planning on 5 jars, breaking my record of approximately $228.70. By the end of the year I should have $250, and in raising enough next year I I hope to get a total of $1000 for all 6 years. If there is any one thing that keeps me going is that it is something to do, and trips to the grocery store and the gas station get me out of the house.


  1. Daniel, I'm in tears and laughing at the same time. Tears, not because I'm sad that you have Autism, but because of you have atriculated in three paragraphs what really matters and what we often forget.

    The first is the magic of the Jar and how your finding the ability to reach out and be "social" (for lack of another word) has made an incalcuable impact on so many people. And two, that the outward trappings of us are not what matters - its the kindness and goodness that reside in our hearts and our intellect.

    God bless you, my friend, and may you have a joyeous a Christmas as you have provided to so many others. Kerri

  2. Daniel-
    What a wonderful story! I love that you've taken on the challenge of the jar and that you share the spirit of it with those around you. Thank you for helping me to see also that it's the steady progress of the jar that helps it grow - not just monetarily, but the "Hope" it brings with it...
    Good luck with your goal for next year!

  3. Daniel, I wish I could give you the Biggest Hug Ever! You are Amazing! You are one of God's Angels here on Earth. You are doing Great Things and Changing Lives! Merry CHRISTmas! GOD BLESS YOU!

  4. Daniel, your story is an inspiration to us all. You are a living example of what a Christmas Jar truly stands for - forgetting ourselves and helping others overcome trials and obstacles by lifting each other up. We can all help in our own way. Whether it is with a jar full of coins, our time, a smile, toys for children, or a stuffed animal, we can all help. Thank you for reminding me of that. Merry Christmas, Daniel.

  5. Wow! 10 jars! That's so wonderful that you have touched so many lives with your Christmas Jars! Your commitment to this wonderful idea is an encouragement to the rest of us!! I'm from Oklahoma and I've been encouraging people to do the jars as well, but your story makes me want to try harder. Thanks for sharing your story!

  6. That's so great!! What a wonderful way to turn your disability into a gift for so many others. It's so easy for many of us get too focused on our own needs that we fail to reach out and help others. Thank you for your good example of caring and kindness.

  7. Daniel,

    Congratulations on your ten jars! That is wonderful! You know, 10 jars touch many people...the 10 people you give the jar to and the 10 people they will give jars to next year and so on! Having goals is a wonderful thing! I can't imagine a better goal than trying to fill Christmas Jars! I, too, had a goal once of filling Christmas Jars and it made me feel so good to accomplish that goal. I'm confident that you will achieve your goal as well. Good luck and keep us posted on how you do! Merry Christmas!! Laurie