This past holiday season was certainly a learning experience as Crittenton’s Angel Tree Program had to adapt to a mostly online process. We’ve asked so many of you how and if you could help make the holidays special for Crittenton youth and families struggling through the pandemic, and we were simply left speechless of the generosity shown.
Every year, we try our best to capture the sheer joy your kindness brings to the youth and families of Crittenton. There a no words to express how grateful we are of what you really accomplished through your caring and generosity this past year. Hundreds of gifts came in from all of you. Our youth and families could not believe their wishes really did come true. They screamed with joy or were stunned in silence when they saw their gifts come in by the holiday deadline.
“I really got it!” echoed in so many homes. This past year in particular, to have seen the faces of our youth so thrilled to have received hygiene items or a sweatshirt or warm socks was humbling to acknowledge as the need is great in the communities we serve.
For those keeping tally nearly 700 Crittenton youth received the basics and beyond during the holidays because you cared.
The parents and caregivers that we serve were genuinely amazed by the generosity of regular people giving anonymously and not asking for anything in return—especially during these uncertain times we are all experiencing.
One of our residential services youth, for example, was so overwhelmed by the love shown this past holiday season that they burst into tears of joy. Another youth decided not to open all their gifts at once, but to spread out the activity through the entirety of the holiday.
In another example, one of our toddlers held onto his baby shark toy all day and would not give it up when it was time to go to bed. This year, many of our case workers asked us to provide them with blankets for our families we are working with because so many were facing evictions and seeking housing in temporary shelters. Please know that it was your gift that moved these clients during some of the most trying times in this pandemic. We just wanted to let you know so you can have some sense of their appreciation – in their most dire time our families felt that someone cared.
As mentioned, this year was very different for our Angel Tree Program, which has been in operation for almost 30 years. Because so many of our corporate partners are working from home these days, we did not think that we were going to be able to serve our youth and families in the same way that we have in the past. To our surprise the pandemic, try as it might, did not stop our business and corporate partners from giving. This year our Angel Tree for the most part went virtual to reduce the spread of COVID19. Gifts were successfully purchased and shipped through online shopping, our Amazon Smile program, and even through a virtual Cooking for a Cause fundraiser hosted by amazing donors that helped raise funds to purchase last minute gifts or in-kind donations that were needed. Several of you continued to ask if we needed more and stepped up and provided more gifts then were originally planned just to ensure that all our youth and families were not forgotten during the holidays.
As the holiday season progressed and deadlines loomed our corporate, individual and group donors, were also able to provide a new pair of Vans sneakers to all of our youth in our residential services program. It has become a tradition of sorts to provide sneakers to our youth during the holidays.
This tradition provided a sense of continuity, and it gave our most dedicated and long-term holiday donors a sense of normalcy despite the revamped Angel Tree process. As we walked onto our residential services campus last week, we were able to witness the new “kicks” on many feet and the gratitude on many young faces, just as we saw in previous years.
For many of our corporate partners they are doing business remotely and their staff is working from home as well. Despite this new “work from home” reality many employees continued to support us through online shopping and even organizing department contributions from home. A number of individuals made the trip to our office to drop gifts off – even though leaving home involved the burdens of pandemic procedures. We truly appreciate all those that kept their promises and delivered their gifts on time!
Each year, Crittenton also has the daunting task of finding a location to set up “Santa’s Village” where we can organize and coordinate the distribution of all gifts. This holiday season we were lucky to have Sunny Hills Church of Christ step up and donate a socially-distant friendly space, which was a true blessing. We want to take this time as well to extend a special thank you to the membership and the Elders for allowing us to use their space for the holiday season! This faith community has been a long-time supporter of our youth and families, and we look forward to their continued friendship and support of our mission.
We would also like to thank the essential workers of Kaiser and St. Jude/St. Joe’s. In the midst of a pandemic, their onerous work schedules, and the challenges that each of these healthcare heroes face each day – they somehow found something extra in their reserves. Thank you for supporting our youth and families. Beyond that, we thank you for your noble work that benefits all people in this unique hour of need.
As always, it has been a blessing to witness first-hand what you do for others. Let this modest acknowledgement remind you all of the sense of importance you made others feel over the holidays.
On behalf of our youth, families, and staff we thank you for your service to others and we wish you a safe and healthy new year.
And as this pandemic continues, we hope that those that can still partner with us throughout 2021 can do so. Please feel free to connect with us if you want to:
With much gratitude, always, Crittenton Services.
Crittenton Services for Children and Families of Southern California (CSCF) is a non-profit social services agency whose mission is to heal the wounds of abuse and neglect; strengthen families; and help troubled adolescents reach their full potential. Established and incorporated in 1966 Crittenton has a highly trained workforce operating 24 hours a day / 7 days a week providing comprehensive mental health services, shelter care, and other support services to the clients in our care. We provide a full array continuum of care programming that includes short-term residential, family preservation, wraparound family services, outpatient mental health, school-linked mental health, transitional age youth programming, and foster care services with a service planning area throughout Southern California that covers Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties.