Never Drop the Santa Act
Let’s be honest. The holidays are stressful. It’s easy to forget what makes them special. That feeling all but disappears when you are gathered-together with your family. A lot of our youth have never experienced sitting around the kitchen table with their whole family for a big Thanksgiving feast, or the pure bliss of a tree full of gifts on Christmas.
“I’ve never had a Thanksgiving dinner like that.”
Every year the Transitional Living Program hosts an Alumni family Thanksgiving. This is a chance for all the current program participants to come together with past youth and staff along with their families and share a meal.
“It’s everyone sitting down at a table for a meal and laughing together. It’s like a big family Thanksgiving…with 75 people.”
What makes it all worth it? Hearing “I’ve never had a Thanksgiving dinner like that.” Giving our youth a meal they have never experienced before.
“This event is one of my favorites around the holidays because it doesn’t matter how you left the program – you are always welcome back.”
This statement holds true. The youth who come back never question if they are welcome. Alissa tells the story of Cody and Todd. They both ran away from Springfield a few years back to St. Louis. They were away for over a year. The day of the alumni dinner, Missouri saw a huge ice storm and the attendance for the dinner was low.
“These two got themselves down here somehow through the ice and snow.” Even though they ran away, they were welcomed back with open arms. “We were so happy to see them back and the conversations that they had with the youth were so encouraging.”
Never Drop the Santa Act
Where does your mind go when you think about Christmas morning? My mind goes back to the sights, sounds, and smells. I smell the scent of cinnamon and pine in the crisp December air. I hear The Christmas Story playing on repeat on TBS & the sound of my dad singing Christmas Carols from upstairs. I see the lights on the tree and the stockings hung and the presents piled high.
During Christmas, Alissa and her team never drops the Santa act.
“We want our kids to experience the ultimate Christmas morning and they get to.”
Every stocking is stuffed. Presents stacked high under the tree. The magic of Christmas is brought to life. Every kid gets to fill out a wish list and they each receive between 6-8 gifts to open on Christmas morning.
“They get everything they put on their list, and it wouldn’t be possible without our amazing donors. They make this happen for the kids.”
“When they just act like kids, It’s my favorite. When they are running around, screaming and jumping or freaking out on Christmas morning because Santa left so many gifts under the tree. It just feels so good.”
These moments make it worth it. They bring such joy to kids who haven’t had much time to be just that… a kid! This joy wouldn’t be possible without you!