On a dark, frigid morning early this December, Berta Gardner (pictured above), walked into Catholic Social Services’ main center bearing gifts, a smile, and plenty of holiday cheer!

While handing her Helping Holidays gifts over to staff, Berta mentioned she was ‘very proud of her grandchildren’ for choosing to opt out of Christmas gifts and instead ‘focus on food, games, and being together’ during the holiday season. Now in lieu of buying gifts for each other, Berta and her family have chosen to spread good will to their neighbors by donating to CSS’s Helping Holidays program!

Every year, generous members of our community sign up to be paired with clients from Catholic Social Services’ programs in order to purchase gifts for them and their families. Donors participating in the Helping Holidays program help many of their neighbors to experience less stress surrounding the purchasing of gifts for the holidays, which can put a huge financial strain on many families this time of year.

One mother and her 6-year-old daughter came in together to donate and said they requested to give to another family with a 6-year-old, because the little girl’s favorite dolls were Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen, and she wanted to give another little girl the same dolls for Christmas. The little girl’s mom
brought in a fuzzy blanket, face masks, and nail polish for the family’s mom so she could enjoy some cozy, self-care time this holiday season.

In the past two weeks, the CSS main center has been transformed into a holiday hub for all kinds of presents, decorations, and gift cards – another great way to give to families during the holidays which can give parents autonomy over the gifts they buy for their kids. All the gifts donated to CSS are picked up by case managers and distributed to families, with extra care not to spoil the surprise for little ones!

This year’s Helping Holidays program was especially successful, with 205 families benefiting from the program – up from 100 families last year, meaning the program more than doubled its impact on our community! All of this is possible through the kindness of our donors, who donate not only material items, but also their time.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Helping Holidays, we are so grateful for everything you’ve done to spread cheer in your community this holiday season!

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