The children at Douglas Children’s Home are learning about giving. In 2016, they gathered together to fill shoeboxes with gifts for children around the world through Operation Christmas Child. This year, they brought their giving closer to home, in a Secret Santa gift exchange at Douglas.
The children chose names out of a hat a few weeks before Christmas, then went shopping with Sammy Mathews and Irving Cantu, Co-Captains of Douglas Children’s Home. “Buying for others is an advanced skill,” shared Sammy. “The children haven’t had much practice in putting themselves in another’s shoes and considering what they would and wouldn’t like.”
All the children and their caregivers were a part of the Secret Santa exchange. This allowed the children to also consider gifts for someone who may not be their age. “Aymi, a 6-year old in the home, drew the name of her caregiver, and it was exciting and impressive to watch her think through purchases,” shared Irving. Aymi ended up choosing a big, soft blanket and an adult make-up set for her caregiver. “She didn’t look at items she would like for herself, she truly understood who she was buying for; we are hopeful this taught each of the children to think outwardly in a new way,” shared Sammy.
Alexia, a 14-year old living at Douglas, was riding in the back seat on the way to shop for her Secret Santa when she shared her excitement to give. “It’s exciting to shop for someone else,” she said. “I am used to receiving gifts from others, but this is an opportunity to be the giver!” Alexia was expressing exactly what Sammy and Irving were hopeful to cultivate within each child.
The gift exchange also allowed the children to utilize budgeting and math skills in a new way. “They were all diligent about checking price tags before picking things out, and they realized they needed to budget some money for gift wrapping, too,” shared Irving. Skills like budgeting and shopping for others are often developed at home, with families, but growing up in a children’s home doesn’t always allow for these everyday lessons.
The gifts were all purchased and carefully wrapped, but the children had to wait just a few more days before the exchange. “Waiting to exchange was also a valuable lesson in keeping surprises and delaying gratification,” laughed Sammy.
Douglas Children’s Home thanks you for your generosity, which allows each child to participate in Christmas celebrations and learn practical skills. Your faithful giving makes every season brighter and is making the difference for one.