As she made her way through the room filled with toys, a young mother got tears in her eyes the moment she saw the Doc McStuffins doll. Her 5-year-old daughter loves the Disney Junior character, and it’s all she wants for Christmas.
“That’s all she’s been talking about, and I didn’t know how I was going to get her one,” the mother said. “This is such a blessing. She’s going to be so excited! I just want everyone to know how much this means to me.”
Thanks to the magic of the YWCA Central Alabama’s Santa’s Workshop, hundreds of children who live in area homeless shelters or whose families are experiencing crisis will have fun opening presents. The annual event allows parents to “shop” for free gifts for their children while the boys and girls create holiday crafts to give to their family members and friends. It gives those who might not otherwise have the means the opportunity to experience the joy of giving.
More than 300 volunteers helped to make the day possible, and the wonderful and creative Belk team once again transformed the gymnasium at the YW into a winter wonderland. Children made pillows, snow globes and handprint cards and enjoyed lots of goodies in Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen. The only thing louder than the laughter was the sound of hammering as the kids built birdhouses, tugboats, airplanes and heart-shaped baskets with the help of volunteers from Home Depot.
As they waited to shop, mothers were treated to breakfast provided by the Women Lawyers Section of the Birmingham Bar Association. After the gifts were wrapped by volunteers, the moms also enjoyed chair massages, holiday music and hot apple cider. Lunches were provided for each family, as well.
Santa’s elves were a little worried early in the week leading up to the event when they learned that more than twice as many children than last year were registered to receive gifts. After pushing out a plea for toys on social media, the community was quick to respond.
“We are so grateful to everyone who brought toys, dropped off checks and helped make the day so special for these very deserving families,” said Mary Jane Gibson, coordinator of volunteers for the YW and Chief Elf. “Our volunteers, donors, supporters and Board and Junior Board members are fabulous, and Santa’s Workshop would not be possible without their compassion, time and generous spirits.”
If you or your organization would like to donate to or get involved with the YWCA, please click here.