By Santa Claus
As you may know, December is a busy time of year for me. I spend a good deal of time at the mall (where you might have seen me) asking kids what they want for Christmas and posing for pictures. Not to mention supervising all of the elves at the North Pole, making my list and checking it twice! But no matter how hectic things get, I never miss the Holiday Gift Party at REACH.
Every year, my friends at REACH are kind enough to invite me to their annual get together. It’s a time when current and former shelter guests, support group members, and other survivors who have worked with REACH get reacquainted with one another and with their advocates from the organization. It’s great to see people who have been through so much come back and tell others that they’re doing so much better.
But obviously my favorite part is getting to see all of the kids! They line up to see me, tell me what they want for presents, and often someone takes a picture of us. These boys and girls are all on the Nice List. They may not show it, but they’ve been through a lot. I know that lots of them have seen things happen between their parents at home that no one should ever have to see. The bad things may have even happened to them. Because of what they’ve seen and heard and felt, it can be hard for them to fall asleep at night. Sometimes they feel the effects of what happened in their bodies – they have headaches or stomach troubles. It can be hard for them to concentrate in school and I know sometimes they feel like they’re forgetting things they’ve learned already. Even though they may not tell me, but some of them act out the hurt they feel towards other, or may struggle to feel a sense of control after feeling so powerless at home. Many of them still feel scared all the time, even if they’re no longer living with the person who did the bad things. They deserve a little joy in their lives.
I love getting the chance to visit with these good boys and girls and hear about what they’re hoping to get for presents. Their wishes are just like other kids’ (a lot of them want Hatchimals this year!) – art supplies, new winter boots, or gift cards to their favorite stores. It would really hard for me to fulfill all of these wishes by myself, which is why I’m grateful to my many helpers who volunteer to shop for gifts. Every year, these great donors help me and REACH provide gifts for more than 200 families. That’s the other reason I love coming to this party – seeing all of the volunteers who help with the crafts, put a delicious meal on the table, and my ‘reindeer’ who help carry gifts out to people’s cars. It reminds me that I’m not alone in my efforts to spread holiday cheer. Even Santa Claus needs a little help now and then! We’re all in this together.
If you didn’t get the chance to be a part of things this year, you should email my friend Deb and talk to her about next year. And even though I won’t be back until this time next year, my friends at REACH are here all year round, helping families who have experienced tough times. Don’t forget to support their important work.