The Christmas season conjures up images of gifts piled high and being home for the holidays. But for those struggling to find stable housing, the reality is far different. Knowing that they might not be able to afford to put gifts under the tree is heartbreaking.
This year, Catholic Charities staff and donors in Flagstaff, Ariz. got to work gathering gifts for clients in the Housing Services program. Case managers then packed bags full of gifts and wrote thoughtful messages in greeting cards. On Dec. 21, more than 100 families and individuals were blessed with Christmas gifts, with Larry Hendricks of the Arizona Daily Sun reporting on the donation.
“The number of gifts donated this year was mind-blowing. Being able to provide a family with toys and books for their children is especially heartwarming when you have been walking alongside them in their fight through homelessness and into permanent housing,” said housing case manager Luke Ostrand.
A Community Comes Together
This yearly gifts program is a clear indicator of just how much Flagstaff donors care about the well-being of their community. They want the most vulnerable to feel loved and cared for and do whatever it takes to make that happen.
And it’s certainly a joint effort. Donors Barry and Celo Brennan contributed monetary donations and gifts cards for children to get a new pair of shoes, as part of their “The Shoe Fits” program. Patrick Nackard and Esther Stewart also provided monetary donations. The Palmer family donated warm, cozy scarves.
Community partners and groups also played a vital role. Youth groups at the San Francisco de Asis Catholic Church made stockings and the church’s Women’s group collected blankets and hygiene items for Juniper House, part of the Community Re-Entry program. Mountain Charter School students provided an impressive donation of toys. Toys for Tots donated toys and clothing as well.
Serving Those Experiencing Homelessness with Dignity
The goal of this major donation is to bring joy to those in need, at a time that’s especially difficult for people experiencing housing instability. Catholic Charities clients were incredibly grateful.
“[It means] a lot. Especially this year, since my daughter’s father passed away and was a major supportive person in our lives,” said Emily*, a client in the Permanent Supportive Housing program. She was overjoyed as she picked up gifts for herself and her three children.
For Catholic Charities case managers, seeing the community come together to accomplish a common goal was a beautiful sight. It reminds them of the impact they’re making every day.
“Some of our folks do not have family or people they feel safe to spend the holidays with. It is so impactful to show our people we are thinking of them and care about them. To be able to spoil families with gifts for their children is a magical experience,” added homeless services program manager Tatum Covey.
*Name was changed to protect client privacy.