November is here and the holiday season is coming quickly. We strive to make it a cheerful and festive time for our youth, but it’s also a challenging time for kids facing so many hurts. We asked Jessie Jackson, LPC, mental health therapist for the young girls cottage, to share what the holidays are like for the kids in our residential program.
Life at CCHO during the holidays can be very difficult on our little ones. Our amazing, selfless staff work hard to make sure each one of them feels loved and worthy especially this time of year. Being without their families is always a struggle, but I do think they feel it most heavily during the holidays as they watch families celebrating together through movies and television.
This year will be especially tough for our residents because of the pandemic, as they’re having to be physically separated from their loved ones more so than usual. Our staff do a great job empathizing with our hurting kids, reminding them that they’re not alone and are loved. They put so much extra time and energy into these kids than the job calls for, and many are heroes in the eyes of the children.
Because of the sadness the holidays can bring to our kids, we try to make the season as enjoyable and fun filled as possible.
Our youth participate in a special feast on Thanksgiving Day as CCHO staff and volunteers donate their time and cooking talents into creating delicious homemade meals and treats. The traditional fixings are always included so the kids don’t miss out on the food experience of the holiday. We also teach them about the importance of the day and encourage them to think about what they’re thankful for.
Each year the kids have a blast putting up Christmas trees and festive decorations to make the cottages a little more like home. The children will again enjoy excellent, home-cooked meals and treats. Santa Claus typically visits to keep the magic alive in their hearts. The children are showered with gifts from their counties and CCHO Wish List donors to help the day be a little less painful. Residents love showing off their gifts to staff and playing with their new toys all day. They’re also taught about the most important reason for the season, Jesus coming into the world, and celebrating His birthday at this time.
We might not be blood related to these amazing kids, but we sure do feel blessed to be considered a part of their family for the time they are with us, especially during the holiday season when we get to be the biggest blessings to them.
Christmas drawing by one of our teen boy residents