Nine years ago, Hermosa Chapter #32 began a new holiday tradition. We began sponsoring Caldwell families in need at Christmas. Each family is chosen by a school counselor in the Caldwell School District. They choose families that are falling on hard times and need a "hand-up" during the Christmas season. Over the years the event has evolved to what it is today. We now sponsor 12 - 15 families. Each child is personally shopped for, our members take special care to get the children what they most desire at Christmas. A full ham dinner with all the trimmings is prepared for the family to take home and eat on Christmas. Each family is also provided with a food basket of non perishables and personal items.
Our event takes place on Christmas Eve. Our morning starts out early with final plans taking shape. We decorate, cook and organize the gifts and food baskets. Over the years we decided it would be more fun for the families to come and hang out in a party type setting. So, at 12:30, the families start arriving and the kids get to go around and make different craft items from magnets to ornaments. They also get to decorate cookies for Santa. The highlight of the day has to come when Santa arrives to give each child a chance to visit with him and receive their Christmas goody bag.
Since this event has started, I cannot imagine spending my Christmas Eve any other way. I have been a witness of genuine love and gratitude. The joy the members of my organization receive by knowing that they are helping to make a child smile at Christmas cannot be expressed through words. Every minute of every hour I spend helping to make this event possible is worth it when a mother hugs me, crying, telling me how much this means to her and that she is overwhelmed by what we have provided. There is no doubt in my mind the gifts these children receive from our Santa, are all that will be placed under their tree on Christmas morning and they are ecstatic.
Over the past 9 years, we have helped over 750 children and 100 families have a happier and brighter Christmas. This is no small task. We raise money throughout the year from within our community, through individuals and businesses. Then, each member takes multiple children to buy for and tries to meet their needs as best as possible. We would love to celebrate with the Radio City Rockettes this year. The members in my organization deserve it. They work as hard today to support this project as the year it began. They are a group of fantastic individuals, ranging in age from 30 - 93 and all doing their part!
Thank you for taking the time to consider our story and we hope we can win this amazing prize.