It is my great pleasure to announce that Ruby Price turned 96 on Tuesday. To celebrate this event, she wants you to, please, go buy her a toy. A football, perhaps, or a set of socket wrenches.
Don't give those things to her. Give them to Toys for Tots.
Ruby is Utah's first black school teacher and a woman of massive accomplishments. Instead of staying home, eating cake and being honored, she and her daughter spent a good chunk of her 96th birthday driving from Layton to my office through a snowstorm to deliver her birthday request in person.
It takes someone like Ruby to even make it to 96. What Ruby wants, Ruby usually gets. Combine a spit-in-death's-eye attitude with a love of children, and that's Ruby.
She taught school in the 1940s when apartheid was Utah's culture, if not the law. She started at the Intermountain Inter-Tribal School in Brigham City, then taught children for 40 years in the Davis School District.
She ran the Republican Party in Davis County for a bunch of years, but loving children is nonpartisan. When Barack Obama was sworn in as president, she gave her own VIP tickets to a church group from Dallas so its children could be there.
Ruby speaks her mind.
Last year she showed up at a news conference of the Utahns for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, which was protesting a state-sponsored killing of a human being.
Politicians pretend the death penalty is a complex issue. Ruby feels the Bible's injunction that "Thou shalt not kill" is simple enough even for a politician to understand.
So she shouted "Thou shalt not kill!" repeatedly.
She was that blunt with me about Toys for Tots. "Tell people," she told me many times. "I want it for my birthday."
We ran a story about Toys for Tots last Friday, and many have responded, but the need is still there.
Marcia Hamblin, who is running Toys for Tots this year, said that as of Wednesday she had 700 families signed up through various agencies whose toy requests she could not fill because she had no toys.
Figure four kids per family, two toys per kids, that's 5,600 toys.
The biggest problem is the 13-and-up age group. Boys need toy cars, games, puzzles, footballs, basketballs, even simple tools. Girls can use the same things, and maybe throw in makeup kits, dolls -- the usual.
"If it says 8 years and up, that's good," Marcia said. Keep the cost under $20, avoid electronics. Books are amazing.
Drop them off at Walmart or Walgreens, Rite Aid, Chick-Fil-A, Toys 'R Us or any Davis County fire station. Look around, Marcia has boxes all over.
Ruby wants those boxes full for her birthday.
"The greatest gift you could give to me is to give gifts to Toys for Tots," she told me to write. "So I am inviting all my former students, associates, friends, relatives and political workers to celebrate my birthday by bringing a toy for Toys for Tots.
"Children are the future of tomorrow. A child is God's opinion for the continuation of the world. We shouldn't have any child in America without a toy. That's embarrassing."
Then Ruby and her daughter drove home through that snowstorm, on her 96th birthday.
Happy birthday, Ruby, and many more.
Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. You can call him at 801-625-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at www.standard.net.