By Colin Powers, Administrative Director, Ryther’s Cottage Program
Every year, I spend Christmas morning with the children in the Cottage Program. The volume of presents under the tree, along with the plate with only cookie crumbs, and the reindeer tracks in the mud outside let the children know that Santa did not forget about them this year. While they come down the stairs in their brand new pajamas, holding onto their brand new stuffed animal, staff direct kids to start with their stockings thanks to Trilogy for Kids. It says a lot about what has been missing from their lives when they are ecstatic about a spin-brush, and more than one child asked to go brush their teeth, even with many presents beckoning them. They were delighted to have their wishes met when they opened their Star Wars toys, Nintendos and games, nail polish and make-up, and arts supplies galore. But they were also pleased to see that people responded to their needs. Books to help learn to read, fidget toys to help keep busy hands occupied, and feelings journals. These were just some of the things that had the kids equally as excited as the toys.
And while all that is happening, I can’t help but think about the immense amount of work that “Santa” went through. So, our heartfelt thanks to the donors who brought in gifts big and small and who went the extra mile to find one child’s “princess zippy blanket” (Disney sleeping bag), another’s Native American doll (“so I can have one that looks like me”), and another’s bike (“Because now I can be healthier!”). Thank you to all of the volunteers who wrapped hundreds of presents from easy (nice rectangular boxes of Legos) to nearly impossible (skateboards, unicorns, and beanbag chairs). In total, you provided gifts for more than 160 children and families served by Ryther! We also thank the Dickens Carolers as well as the Ryther League for their Kids’ Holiday Store and all the holiday cookies. We could not have had such a wonderful holiday season without each one of you! Here is what one grateful parent told her Ryther Outpatient Mental Health therapist:
“When I filled out the list of needed items for my children, I also listed some items my kids were really hoping for, knowing they may not come. To our surprise, and their screams of delight, not only were their needs met, but their holiday wishes as well. I am deeply touched by the thought, care, and effort that was put into helping our family. The feeling is indescribable. Thank you all very much!