It’s official…you like us…you really like us!
So, this past December the Crittenton Services for Children and Families volunteers, donors, community partners and staff were busy keeping up with the holidays. They answered a call-to-action that made the holidays a little more enjoyable for children and youth that seldom see compassion.
“I’m always amazed of the generosity our entire support base has consistently shown the youth and families Crittenton advocates for,” said Martha Jasso, Director of Communications, CSCF, “Despite the fact that Crittenton doesn’t necessarily have the brand name recognition other child welfare or non-profits have at their disposal our support base continues to grow mostly from word-of-mouth testimonies directly from those who have experience with our organization in some capacity.”
The end of 2014 devoted countless hours of volunteer work and hundreds of in-kind holiday donations to nearly every program we have youth or families enrolled in with demonstrated need. Whether, it was a holiday party organized by one of our volunteer groups for system-involved girls placed in our specialty teen mom and baby residential program; or it was a holiday gift pick-up at St. Martin de Porres a Catholic Church in Yorba Linda, Calif. the outpouring of “help” is certainly not overlooked by CSCF staff that directly works with clients.
“Sadly, Crittenton can’t create positive memories by ourselves. We simply don’t have the staff to sustain these kinds of activities on our own. We can’t tell you how fundamentally important it is to make sure that we continuously involve volunteers in our various programming efforts. Mentors, community partners and donors make a big difference in giving our youth one important gift, in this case, hope, because when you have a little hope to latch on to, or when you plant seeds of resiliency it makes it worth while for our youth to see that life really is worth fighting for,” Jasso said.
Perhaps one of the most long awaited holiday initiatives we have every year, and that just recently wrapped is the annual Crittenton Angel Tree Program. This holiday gift drive that is spearheaded by long-time volunteer and CSCF Kids Matter Auxiliary founder, Pat Williams, is a wonder of event coordination and community generosity.
“The 2014 holiday season was an exceptional holiday for the kids at Crittenton in every way. The sheer volume of children being cared for by thousands of kind people, and the volume of newly arriving kids just days before Christmas made for a magical, albeit stressful season of giving. Just when Santa was overwhelmed and awash in the stories of the brokenness of our boys and girls, another God-sent donor would connect, asking how they could help,” said Williams.
This January, we were able to record, that nearly 900 Crittenton clients had holiday gifts ranging from new tennis shoes to basic food pantry or home cleaning products delivered during the holidays. This is triple the number of clients that we were able to help in 2014 from the 239 clients we were able to help back in 2004. A lot has changed, regarding client needs, in a 10-year period.
The Crittenton clients that benefitted from this community effort included: 170 foster youth, nearly 20 transitional age youth, more than 300 clients placed in our residential treatment program, the wraparound family services program, the family preservation program, the aftercare program, and a number of former Crittenton clients that we still keep in contact with and had a demonstrated need this holiday season.
So, who were these donors and volunteers you ask? Well, nearly 11 local churches or faith-based groups helped out this year in some capacity; 16 local schools pitched in to help; 21 service clubs or community groups got involved with our organization during the holidays; and a number of employee groups from various companies which include Kaiser Permanente, St. Jude Healthcare, Lake Shore Learning Store, Morningside Retirement Living Community, and the Placentia Police Department to name a few gave generously.
In fact, a number of our volunteers and donors went above and beyond. In particular, the local parish of St. Martin de Porres of the Catholic Diocese of Orange County heard that Crittenton needed more warehouse space to store gifts safely. The parishioners of this local church were happy to open up their office space to store gifts, and a small group of volunteers from the parish assisted in helping with the distribution process as well.
In all, 83 gift pickups were accomplished by Crittenton staff at various locations throughout Orange, Los Angeles and Inland Empire counties. The Crittenton staff or “Christmas Elves” also had to manage a short three-week turnaround window to organize, distribute and deliver all gifts by the Christmas delivery deadline. We are happy to report that all gifts were wrapped, categorized and distributed to all clients registered in the 2014 Crittenton Angel Tree Program.
“Love was felt deeply beyond the bright bags and packages, perhaps beyond the gifts themselves. Our children knew someone cared about them. Kind donors gave without judgment. You did not need to know where the children came from, his or her background, or their views on the issue of the day. All you wanted to know was the sizes, the need, and the answer to the question, ‘Can I add a little something extra?’, and for that we thank you,” Williams said.
So, did you miss being a part of Crittenton’s Angel Tree Program this December, and are curious to know in what other ways does Crittenton need help?
Plenty of ways, actually, that you can help Crittenton accomplish our mission.
Did you know that we are always looking for loving foster parents to work with; or mentors to help provide guidance to youth that are system-involved; or that we are in need of donors or business partners that can give philanthropically towards the various direct-client services programs that help with shelter care and mental health programming?
If you think you can help or want to be a part of our network feel free to contact us. We are always looking for partnerships and ideas that make a difference in helping our clients live productive and healthy lives.
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 counseling, medical, and other support services to the clients in our care. We provide a full array of residential, in-home, community based, wraparound, mental health, foster care, and adoption services with a service planning area throughout Southern California that covers Orange, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego Counties.