Holiday gift drive brings joy and hope to Arizona children and families

Not all families can afford to buy gifts for their children during the holiday season. Southwest Human Development’s annual Gingerbread Kids Holiday Gift Drive provides holiday gifts for Arizona children in need across Arizona.

Purchasing a gift may be a small purchase for donors, but the impact it makes for children and their overburdened and under-resourced families in our programs can’t be overstated.

Children in our Kinship Care, Foster Care and Adoption programs are many of the recipients of gifts donated through the Gingerbread Kids Holiday Gift Drive each year. Some of the children in these programs have experienced abuse and/or neglect, while others simply haven’t had an opportunity to experience the love and joy of the holiday season.

“This holiday giving program has so many benefits to the children we serve,” says Julie Otero, one of the managers of the Kinship Care and Adoption program at Southwest Human Development. “Many foster children never experience the excitement of waiting to open gifts and being able to establish positive memories related to the holiday season. It can help them to heal from the past trauma they may have experienced. These holiday gifts, as simple as they are, are a renewal of hope and let them know they are valued and cared for.”

For many of these children, being given gifts during the holiday season provides a sense of normalcy and belonging.

“Since many of these children come from difficult circumstances, being given gifts gives them the chance to feel just like other kids,” Otero says.

The Gingerbread Kids Holiday Gift Drive also send a much-needed positive message to the caregivers in the program. Some foster families are suddenly taking in their nieces, nephews, cousins or grandchildren, so it can be a struggle just to put food on the table, much less afford gifts, especially for those on fixed incomes.

“By helping kinship and foster families, you are telling them they are supported and valued for the vital role they are playing in their endeavor to help young children lead happy and successful lives,” added Otero.

Learn more or donate online at swhd.org/holidays.

If your company or community organization would like to provide gifts for children in need this holiday season, contact Annette Sutfin at (847) 366-4034 or asutfin@swhd.org for more information.