Tis The Season
It may be early but it's never to early to start getting in to the spirit of Christmas. This year, Jake and I decided we were going to turn our efforts and spirits outwards and give to our community rather than to ourselves. Often we look at all that we have which usually boils down to the fact that we have a roof over our heads, the opportunity to earn money to provide for our family, fresh and healthy food, transportation and simply feel overwhelmed and humbled. I started to do some research, since I know many organizations are starting their Christmas projects now, to see what I could find. Let's just say I feel like I found an absolute gem among gems (there are some incredible organizations out there!) that I am really excited to work with.
We are going to work with the 11-18 year olds in the Salt Lake County Youth Services home. These kids come from abusive or neglected homes and have usually been in-and-out of the foster care system hoping to find a permanent placement. While waiting for a placement these awesome group homes provide a place of safety and refuge while providing them with educational, therapeutic and social activities. Keep in mind, once these kids are 18, they "age out" of the system. So if they don't find a placement, they are left to their own because they no longer can be in the system. With that in mind, these homes may be the only "home" they experience. What really got me was this is a group that is often overlooked when it comes to Christmas donations and often times they don't receive any. Most people tend to think immediately of the homeless or little kids, which is fantastic, but wed' like for these kids to have one amazing Christmas experience.
This year we have A Night On The Town planned for these kids. Working with the professional, local dance company, Odyssey Dance, they will get to attend the final dress rehearsal for the Christmas show and then meet the dancers. Two of the dancers in the company have been in the So You Think You Can Dance top twenty, so that should be a blast! We are going to find a restaurant so they can have the experience of eating out beyond fast food and learn the art of etiquette. Most of them have never had the chance to experience "fine dining." They will be able to have a reason to get all dressed up and hopefully have a break from the reality of their day-to-day life.
Secondly, we are going to collect the gifts for their Christmas morning. I asked the Volunteer Coordinator at the youth homes to send me a "dream list" if they had a full budget. If it was possible, each teen would have $100 dollars worth of gifts for them ready to be opened Christmas morning. One of the gifts on the list was a $25 gift card to a place like WalMart where THEY could find things they wanted to buy for themselves, something that is rare for them. The total price to give these teens the best Christmas morning ever? $3000 total. 30 teens at $100 a piece to fulfill their dream list. In all of my hope and optimism, I think this goal can be met. Why? Because I know amazing people out there that often want to help but don't know who, where and how.
Here's your chance.
I will be posting the details so all of those who want to participate can. There is so much that can be done for both the Night On The Town and Christmas Morning that I'm sure there will be something for you. I know it's early, but I hope that maybe this will give everyone time to consider giving a small percentage of their Christmas to a teenager in need and spread the word.
Here's to kicking off the holiday season with a bang!