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Youth Villages staff share stories from families helped by Holiday Heroes in New England

January 21, 2014
Photo from family who received gifts

One of our families lovingly stacked gifts from generous Holiday Heroes beside their Christmas tree and sent us this photo.

Thanks to the generosity of our Holiday Heroes in New England, Youth Villages fulfilled the holiday wishes of more than 300 children served by our community-based programs and our Youth Villages-Germaine Lawrence Campus in Arlington, Mass.

View a photo gallery featuring event photos, volunteer testimonials and thank-you notes from our children and families.

Several specialists who work with youth and their families in their homes shared their heartwarming stories about how the gifts from Holiday Heroes made a difference this holiday season.

“For the past six months I worked with a 15-year-girl who lived with her mother and four siblings. The girl had become pregnant and was due shortly after the holidays and was struggling to find the money to purchase items to prepare for the baby. The girl’s mother was raising the family on her own and shared with me that she was struggling to make ends meet. She shared that she planned on making gifts for Christmas for her kids because she just could not afford anything more. The family was making such great progress in treatment and I knew the youngest children, 5-year-old twins, still believed in Santa, so I nominated them for Holiday Heroes. To be honest, when it was time to pick-up the gifts up from the Holiday Heroes work shop, I was moved to tears by the outpouring of kindness from our sponsors and the support that they provided for this Mom and her children. Because of our Holiday Heroes, the family received things that they needed (new clothes, diapers, baby bottles, and books), but also some special toys and gifts. The twins even received bikes that Mom was able to put together with the help of the older siblings. The girl I work with only hoped for things for her baby, which she received, but we were also able to make sure she received some gifts as well. The mom and the older siblings were so grateful for the generosity and support that they just kept saying ‘Thank you’ and that they could not believe how perfect all of the gifts were. Thank you Holiday Heroes for making Christmas happen for this family!”
– Amanda Dill, Clinical Supervisor- Intercept

“One of the fathers I work with had expressed that money was tight and that the family would struggle to buy Christmas gifts this year. He explained that his young children still believe in Santa and that this might be the year that Santa would not come to the family home. I was able to get a list of what the kids had asked Santa for and submitted their need to this year’s Holiday Heroes efforts. I was delighted that we would be able help this family and that I would get to drop off the gifts. I knocked on the family’s door and signaled to the father that I had the gifts with me. The father had to shut the door quickly so the younger kids wouldn’t see me with the presents. He then led me to the family’s storage space so he could hide the gifts until Christmas. The father was very grateful and so excited by how well the gifts matched what the kids had asked for. The kids had a wonderful Christmas, and their belief in Santa remains intact.”
-Audrey May, Family Intervention Specialist

“A youth that I work with has put a lot of work towards reaching his independent living goals, and as a specialist, I wanted to reward him with a special gift around the holidays. Throughout our normal sessions, he enjoyed telling me how much he likes to shop and look “fresh,” and would share the names of stores that he frequently shops at. This made it really easy to identify what stores he would like gift cards to. We had worked on budgeting throughout treatment and I knew that new clothes are a luxury for him. I was extremely excited to be able to give him a few special gifts this holiday through our Holiday Heroes program. The gifts were truly a surprise, which was obvious through his reaction to the generous gifts. He continued to tell me throughout the session that he was very surprised and extremely grateful for the gifts that he received through Youth Villages Holiday Heroes.”
– Allison Norton, Transitional Living Specialist

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