Portland Area Businesses Turn Underprivileged Kids into Young Santas
Christmas for Kids sends children holiday shopping for winter coats and other necessities.
For most of us, the holiday season is a time of celebration and abundance; but for some children, the holidays are a time to endure. The cold reality is some are children won’t even have a warm coat or shoes that fit. Christmas shopping won’t be in the family budget again this year. They won’t know the satisfaction of “playing Santa” for their siblings. They won’t have holiday stories to share at school. And they’ll still have to make do with coats and boots that don’t fit or don’t keep them warm. That’s why, each year, Christmas for Kids takes hundreds of needy children holiday shopping. Hand-in-hand with Christmas for Kids volunteers, these pint-sized Santas gather at the Hollywood Fred Meyer store to choose presents for their brothers and sisters. This year’s Christmas for Kids event is December 2nd, and the Christmas for Kids Foundation is working to increase the number of children they serve this year by raising $65,000 to spend on local kids.
“Through cash donations and the generous contributions of our corporate sponsors, we’ll be able to touch the lives of several hundred needy children,” explains foundation board member Bill Wilson. “Since most of the foundation’s administrative and operations costs are donated, we’re able to spend almost 97% of the money we collect directly on these children the day of the event. But this year, given the economy, we’ll have more children than ever needing help.”
For 20 years, area school principals and counselors have been nominating underprivileged elementary school children in the Portland Metro area to participate in Christmas for Kids. On “shopping day,” each child has a spending budget based on the total number of children in their family. With the help of their family’s “wish list” and a
Christmas for Kids volunteer, the child chooses shoes, boots, clothing, underwear, toys, and other necessities to give their siblings. This year, thanks to a generous donation from Columbia Sportswear Company, each child will also receive a winter coat.
Andrea Cook, President of Warner Pacific College, recently praised Christmas for Kids saying, “As an urban Christian liberal arts college that is in the city, we commend Christmas for Kids for reaching out to urban children touched by poverty and providing them the opportunity to experience the joy of Christmas while meeting their need for essential clothing items.”
Program volunteers say the joy on Christmas for Kids shopping day is unforgettable.
“What touches our hearts,” Wilson says, “is how happy these children are to shop for their family. Most of the wish lists don’t even include toys. These are families that need basics for their children like socks and underwear and the kids know that, they live it every day. On shopping day, they’re all lit up with excitement because they have this chance to be Santa for their brothers and sisters. The Hollywood Fred Meyer starts ringing with all their little voices. I’ll bet it’s exactly how Santa’s workshop sounds.”
To learn more about Christmas for Kids or to make a donation, please call 503-669-488 or visit www.christmasforkids.org.
About Christmas for Kids. Christmas for Kids Foundation is a non-religious 501(c) 3 funded by
donations from Portland area businesses and individuals. Christmas for Kids 2009 co-sponsors
include Columbia Sportswear Company, Fred Meyer, The Standard, United Healthcare, ING, Atlas
Track and Tennis, and Majestic Eagle Agency+Kemper.