When you donate to Give A Christmas, you help a family in need. Here are their stories

·5 min read

There is a special magic brought on only by the holiday season. It’s a feeling tenderly preserved and passed down each year from parents and grandparents to their children and grandchildren.

It comes in many forms — the smell of cookies baking in the oven, the warmth of a home strung with lights, or the mystery and wonder of a spying carefully wrapped gift.

Families do all they can to provide their children with a Christmas filled with hope, love and joy. But what happens when life takes a turn and meeting just the everyday needs seem impossible?

At this moment, requests are pouring in for help from the annual Give A Christmas campaign, a program administered by the Levittown-Bristol Kiwanis Club, in partnership with the Bucks County Courier Times.

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Kiwanis volunteers spend countless hours reading through these letters sent by folks who, despite the unfortunate circumstances they find themselves at odds with, just want to give their children the Christmas they deserve.

The stories shared in these letters are heartbreaking, said Mary Berman, Kiwanis Club board member, past president and one of the main organizers of the campaign. But she recognizes the courage it takes to ask for help and treats each letter with the compassion and respect they warrant.

“They need that extra support. You know, they may be working, but they’re working minimum wage jobs,” explained Berman. “They’re barely making it for the regular bills, and to have Christmas thrown in there and try to tell your child, ‘You can’t have a Christmas tree this year’.”

This year, Berman says they’re seeing a lot of people who have lost their jobs and worry they won’t be able to buy presents for their kids. Work has halted for some due to pandemic-related closures, others have had to stay home caring for ill loved ones or are struggling to get the hours they need thanks to a lack of childcare options.

The reasons cover a broad spectrum of problems, but one thing remains the same —they just want to give their kids a little piece of Christmas joy.

"I want to put a smile on my kids' faces Christmas morning," wrote a single mother of four one year after having just lost her job. "I would be so grateful if you could help."

Another time, a mother of a 7-year-old girl asked for help after escaping an abusive relationship, leaving her homeless, without a car or any money. She relied on friends and family for rides so she could continue to work. "I try to maintain a normal life as much as I can for my daughter as she is my world and it's heartbreaking every day to know I don't know how I am going to provide for her," wrote the woman.

Some are simply unable to work, as a disabled Croydon mother of three wrote a few years ago. "This time of year is difficult on us; we have no money left in the budget to buy any presents for our children," she said. "My hope is for help this holiday with presents for under the tree for my children."

This year, the requests aren’t much different. And in addition to the letters received, the program depends heavily on schools identifying children needing assistance. Between the letters and school referrals, it’s apparent many Bucks County residents will be struggling to make it through this holiday.

But there is hope.

The generous contributions coming in add up, making a difference in the lives of local families who desperately need to feel a bit of relief and hopefulness during such a difficult time. The money collected will primarily go towards the purchase and distribution of $35 vouchers to local struggling families.

This year’s goal the Kiwanis set out to raise $132,000 and they still need the community’s help to reach it and help as many families as possible. Berman hopes that by keeping the money local, it will continue inspiring Bucks County residents and businesses to give towards the Give A Christmas fund.

“I just think it’s really neat when you see neighbor helping neighbor,” said Berman. “I think when you live in a community, a lot of times you are aware of people that are in need.”

What you need to know about Give A Christmas

TO GET HELP: Submit names, addresses and circumstances of those in need in writing. Please print the child's full name, parent/guardian's full name, age, grade and school district. Send to: Give A Christmas, P.O. Box 841, Levittown, PA 19058.

TO GIVE HELP: Send donations to Give A Christmas, P.O. Box 862, Levittown, PA 19058.

Make checks payable to Give A Christmas and please include the donation form found in print in the daily newspaper or available for download at BucksCountyCourierTimes.com/GiveaChristmas. If you don’t have the form, please send a note with your donation that includes your name, town, phone number (not for publication), donation amount and any message you wish to have published with your gift. Also indicate how you wish your name to be listed or if your donation is anonymous. A link to make a secure online donation can be found atBucksCountyCourierTimes.com/GiveaChristmas.

This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Give A Christmas gives children a Christmas they deserve

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