Center offers gifts for needy families

Posted 11/21/14

Every child dreams of opening a present on Christmas morning, and one organization is striving to make that dream come true.

The Arvada Wheat Ridge Service Ambassadors for Youth (AWRSAY) Santa House kicks off its ninth season of giving on Dec. 3 …

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Center offers gifts for needy families

Posted

Every child dreams of opening a present on Christmas morning, and one organization is striving to make that dream come true.

The Arvada Wheat Ridge Service Ambassadors for Youth (AWRSAY) Santa House kicks off its ninth season of giving on Dec. 3 in a new location and with 400 more children on its Christmas list.

Temporarily located in the Arvada Plaza Shopping Center’s former theater just west of the AutoZone at 9460-B Ralston Road, the Santa House is expanding services to 17 area schools, helping more than 1,000 families have a brighter Christmas.

“The poverty level and the homelessness in the metro continues to grow,” said Duane Youse, founder of Santa House. “The bottom line is they need help buying Christmas gifts so they can take care of their own livelihood.”

Serving a selected group of schools in Arvada and Wheat Ridge, the program offers low-income families at those schools a way to obtain presents for their children who may not otherwise receive any.

To qualify, families must bring their school’s voucher, a current form of identification and a piece of mail to verify their financial status. Following verification, families will be walked through the house by a personal shopper, or elf, who helps them pick out gifts for their child(ren).

“For all the volunteers, when they help you with the bag and they (receiving families) say, ‘Thank you so much, we would have the Christmas we do without you,’ — it’s that satisfaction for me,” said Joel Folk a longstanding volunteer with the organization.

During a visit to the Santa House, families will receive up to seven gifts per child including one big gift, a book, a game, coloring books and crayons, a hat, one pair of gloves, and stocking stuffers. Along with the gifts, families will receive some wrapping paper and Christmas decorations, as well as some infant and toddler clothes for those who need it.

This year, organizers are seeking both cash and toy donations. Currently, the nonprofit is looking for new, unwrapped toys and gifts, especially board games, to give to every family in hopes they spend more time together this holiday season.

Over the past eight years, the organization has served more than 6,576 families and 19,705 children.

“It behooves the community to step up,” Youse said, “not only throughout the year, but particularly during the holidays and make it a little more special for the families.”

Donations may be dropped off Tuesday-Saturday through Dec. 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Santa House.

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