This event started 15 years ago while I was reading an article in the Ladies Home Journal about a man who bought presents for kids - about 5000 kids - in the Bronx and served their families dinner and I thought...hey we can do that. I called my best friend and she agreed…so off we went! We started off by adopting some kids, shopping for them and serving dinner. This was a very stale way to spend Christmas Eve. We had a bunch of strangers sitting in a room eating with each other and waiting for their turn with Santa to get their gifts and leave. SO WE REVAMPED IT. Now, the families arrive to lots of noise and Christmas music. The room is decorated with craft tables, a cookie decorating station and a spot for Santa. The families move as they wish from station to station making ornaments for their tree and bookmarks and the kids can make presents for their parents. They get to decorate cookies to leave out for Santa and then go sit on his lap and receive a treat bag. When the families decide they are ready to go, we load them up with presents (toys, jackets, blankets, family movie night baskets, etc), a full ham dinner and a box of household items (detergent, toothbrushes, toilet paper, etc purchased by Bethel #8 Job’s Daughters International). It is so much more fun and enjoyable - for us and them.
Our morning starts early as we decorate and get set-up. Yes, we have it on Christmas Eve, a day normally set aside for families, but I chose this because I wanted these people to realize, they are important enough for me to give up my time with my family to spend time with them. I want them to know that they were not an after-thought or something that needed to work around my schedule.
This year, we when we received the wish lists, something was different. Gone were the requests for video game consoles and electronics. This year, all of the kids are asking for basic clothing. They want jeans, shirts, underwear, socks and shoes. This took me back and I thought, okay, now what. Well…the now what is I am striving to raise $6500 before Christmas Eve. I want to make sure each of these kids receives a new outfit, undergarments and shoes. Operation Santa has taken on a life of its own. More and more people are getting involved. It is by far the best way I can think to spend Christmas Eve.
Here are comments from some of the families we have helped:
“Would like to say thank you very much for making our Christmas even brighter!”
“Thank you for inviting my family the opportunity to do this. Without it my children would not have had a Christmas.”
“You guys made our Christmas. From my kids and us thanks so much and I have a special needs child and he had an awesome time and Christmas.”
“Thanks to you, my children had Christmas. It had been a rough month and the funds I had set aside had to be used to repair our van. God bless you all!”
“I would like to thank each one of you for making my grandkids Christmas this year. They enjoyed it very much and the gifts – they were so happy. Thank you so much. I know that there is a God and people that care about other families and ours. God bless each one of you!”
“We want to thank you so much. The children were very happy with their stuff and it was exactly what they needed and wanted. God bless!”
“We would like to thank you very much. Without you we would not have had a Christmas. Thank you and God bless!”