July 10, 2015
We may be in the middle of a summer heat wave, but it’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas at the YWCA Central Alabama. In an effort to ensure that a growing number of very deserving boys and girls will have a happy holiday season, we are celebrating Christmas in July.
Santa’s elves were a little overwhelmed last year when they realized just days before the YW’s annual Santa’s Workshop that more than twice as many children were registered to receive gifts than the year before. Santa’s Workshop, a much-loved event, allows families living in homeless shelters or transitional housing to experience the joy of giving. Parents can “shop” for free gifts for their children while the boys and girls make crafts to give to their loved ones.
As a result of the increased need, the elves wanted to get an early start this year. “There are so many families who are struggling, and we want to be sure we can help,” said Mary Jane Gibson, coordinator of the event, which is set for December 12. “The community has always embraced this event and been so generous. Many of our volunteers have said they would host a toy and clothing drive this summer to help fill the need.”
Last year, 498 children received toys, books and clothing, up from 224 the previous year. The families are either clients of the YWCA or have been referred by social workers and other agencies. “Sadly, the need continues to grow,” Gibson said. “Our families have so many worries, and it is such a blessing for the parents to know that, despite everything they are going through, they will be able to give their children Christmas presents.”
If you would like to help, drop off new, unwrapped gifts at the YWCA, 309 23rd Street North, or host a toy and clothing drive at your office, place of worship or among your friends. Santa’s Workshop serves children ranging in age from infants to 18, so a variety of gifts is needed. If you would prefer to order online and have items delivered directly to the YWCA, these online wish lists will make it easier.
“We are so grateful to have so many supporters who embrace our families each year,” Gibson said. “The holidays can be so hectic, so Christmas in July will allow everyone to get a head start.”