We did it! Thank you!
We made the $10,000 matching donation! Thank you all so much. It has to be a record year for Be A Santa!
The whole #BeASanta experience was fantastic, but a bit more draining than I realized. Some how it always makes me a bit sad too. There is so much emotion around this. It feels like I can do enough.
We had the party for the kids at a church down the street from the main Penny Lane campus. PL is located mostly in North Hills, which has been a very rough neighborhood, poor, gangs, drugs…the works. Penny Lane has been a very beneficial presence. Things are much better. The cops and the community have worked together to make it safer for everyone. There are still a lot of strip clubs and icky iffy storefronts with scruffy dangerous looking types hanging around.
The church was a genius move on Nydia’s part for a couple of reasons. Nydia is head of funds development and she also oversees things like this party for the kids, with Dianne’s help. I always work with the Funds Development person. So this is an important person for me to get along with. The kids can get very amped up this time of year. They know vacation is coming up and there is the dread of being in a group home while also wanting to go home/not wanting to go home , and everything in between. I have always hoped that the promise of gifts will keep the kids on better behavior as a bit of an incentive and keep them from going awol. ( They are not locked up). But it often isn’t the case.
Julian and I were talking about the times we came to Penny Lane to deliver the gifts and there was a riot, cops called . Lockdown. Or going to a Sat House to find the cops there. The kids do the best they can, but often they just don’t have the coping skills yet.
Anyway, the church seemed to have an effect on them, like dude, this is a CHURCH. Voices down and best behavior. And the rec hall we were in was about 4x the size of the room we used at Penny Lane. When the kids are too close together, things happen, not always good. So the extra room just gave energy the space to fan out and blow away.
This summer I was decluttering like crazy and gave Penny Lane a lot of household items , decorations and clothing.
Walking into the church before the kids, I was blown away by the realization that the Christmas decorations were all from my house! I tend to put too much emotional emphasis on stuff. Getting rid of the decorations was heart tugging for me. And then here they were! My angel Raggedy Ann and wicker sleigh, Santas, Reindeer…then I saw the Christmas tree and it was covered by my decorations! The emotions were so surprising. It was good I didn’t really have time to take it in. So much to do!
We had several stations where the kids could get cookies, make a wreath, write notes…Dianne did a great job. My actor friend Jay is the most amazing Father Christmas. He is the pagan forest St Nick. His costume is all handmade. Talk about Cosplay! I’ll look for a photo to post. I was outside with him while he changed into his costume of cloak, staff and wreath of holly when this family walked up with several small children who had clearly never seen anything like this before. Jay handled it beautifully with his booming voice and English accent and manners. They just gaped at him while the mama took pictures. They talked to him in Spanish and he talked back in English , all seeming to understand each other just fine.
The Penny Lane teens are equally in awe of Father Christmas. The staff takes their photos as they arrive, and they can talk to Jay but most are too shy to. They might get all street on him, but he doesn’t get phased by much. It helps that he is about 6’2″.
Maybe it was his presence as well as the church’s pastor who gave the blessing that kept the kids calmer and more respectful than I have seen in years.
While the kids eat and watch the entertainment ( I have to post the guy who played the saw again) I set up the bags for Father Christmas. We go caseload by caseload, or house by house which is how the kids are used to being grouped. Each kid got a huge bag of goodies ( thank you my Santas) and a gift card for $100!!!
I cannot thank you all enough. The donors names are posted on the Angels page. If you don’t see your name, let me know!
Please share this around so all who donated can see it. My thanks and love to you all. Let me know if you want to know anything else! #Loveyoumeanit
We have a matching gift!
A dear and generous person has made $10,000 available to Be A Santa for the kids and all we have to do is raise a matching $10,000! We have until early December. (Closing date TBA) That shouldn’t be a problem for the generous angels we have around us!
All the money goes to the kids. Every cent.
A bit about Be A Santa
I volunteer for the Penny Lane Home for Children. In 1996, I created a program for the teens of Penny Lane called “Be A Santa”.
The 120 + teenagers of Penny Lane have been so sexually, emotionally, and physically abused they cannot be placed in regular foster care. Penny Lane has taken in these kids whose trauma is such that they are not able to be placed in a home and given them a safe place to recover, be cared for, treated, and educated.
Penny Lane was started in the 1960s by a remarkable woman named Ivelise Markovitz. I am blessed to say she is still a good friend of mine today. Penny Lane, like many worthy places, faces desperate challenges to keep the doors open, much less provide the kids with Holiday gifts. Here’s where we come in.
The Be A Santa program makes the holidays happen for the 120 + teens in residence in the San Fernando Valley. We get teens from all over. The main residence and group homes are here in the Valley. I gather funds and donations and make each teen a personalized gift bag full of stocking stuffers and a Westfield Mall gift card, which is good for any store. We put trees in each of the 10 homes and provide resources for Holiday parties and dinners. It takes about $15,000 to make all of this happen each year. And while most of the activity happens around the holiday season, I can take donations throughout the year.
Every year it is thrilling to see these tough kids light up when they get their bag of goodies handed to them from Santa! It’s just amazing to see that something so minor for us can make such a difference for them. Because of the economy, an additional group home, and more teens than ever before, we are faced with a huge challenge this year. I am asking you to help me in any way you see fit. I can send you a list of items we need and, of course, we need money as well.
Please pass this on to other folks who might help. Share it through email, social media, or any other way you can think to get the word out. Everyone coming together for these kids is what the season is all about. No matter where you are from or what you believe, helping kids is a blessing for all of us.
Thanks so much for being the amazing people you are! You are angels for these kids!