“Christmas isn’t just a day; it’s a frame of mind,” Kris Kringle, Miracle on 34th Street.
For many kids, Christmas is embraced as a season and not just one day. Still, when it comes to Christmas morning, the allure of all the anticipation comes to an excitable end as little eyes wake, knowing that Santa was out delivering only just a few hours ago.
However, for hundreds of Lamar County children who are victims of abuse and neglect, Christmas brings new challenges as sometimes they can feel that they may not be worthy of such delight.
Thankfully, with the team efforts of the Texas State Guard and Lamar County first responders, volunteers; hundreds of children are set to receive Christmas presents this year.
Judge Bill Harris, Officer Curtis Graham, Sheriff Scott Cass, City Attorney Stephanie Harris, CASA representative Rose Kernell, CPS representative Deanna Nickerson and volunteer Melody Figueroa, recently took over the toy aisles at Walmart on Wed Dec 11, filling loads of carts to place a toy under the tree or children this year.
“Bill had sent me a text earlier today, knowing that I always get a handful of angels from the angel tree. He asked me to help tonight, and a few toys collected will be able to go to the kids from the angel tree,” said Figueroa.
She added that having been one of those kids in hardship, that each year, she sets her goals to help as many children as she can have a wonderful Christmas.
“When all these organizations can work together to ensure all kids in the county get to enjoy Christmas, it is a wonderful thing to be apart of. Every dollar donated helps ensure every child gets at least one gift or toy,” she explained.
“We received $5,000 in cash donations this year from local businesses and individuals.,” said Harris. “This year, Chris Parris from Big Boy Memorabilia was our biggest donor, and everything that we were able to raise has been a great blessing.”
Sheriff Cass added to Harris’ statement by saying, “being able to come here and help pick out some bicycles and toys knowing the smiles and joy it will bring to kids is a true blessing we are all proud to be a part of.”
Toys will be distributed to children with CASA for Kids, the SAFE-T Shelter, New Hope Center, Salvation Army tree angels, some schools, and area churches.
“We are very fortunate that the Child Welfare Board helps our CPS kids with Christmas presents. But that doesn’t stop us from lending a helping hand,” said Nickerson. “I brought with me two experts to help choose some toys from the list that some of our local kids will be sure to enjoy.”
Nickerson had enlisted the help of several employees and also youngsters Hallie, 8, and Alec 5, both of which were overjoyed to hunt for some toys for kids less fortunate.
Each year, Paris CASA for Kids provides services to over 250 Lamar County children in foster care. The SAFE-T shelter helps 12-15 children each month who are homeless or the victims of domestic violence. Area churches quietly minister to children from families who struggle to pay the bills. For many of these kids, the pure joy of getting toys for Christmas is often out of the question.
“100 percent of donations were spent today – we don’t have any administrative expenses. It’s all-volunteer. All toys stay here in LAMAR County for LAMAR County children,” Harris said.
None of this is possible without the generous support of local citizens and businesses. Donations of new and gently used toys are accepted. Cash donations are always welcomed.