Methodist Children’s Home is blessed each year during the holidays by churches and organizations across Texas and New Mexico who step in to sponsor activities for our MCH Family Outreach offices. This year was no exception as each office hosted holiday celebrations for families served through foster care and family preservation services.
“All locations host holiday events to celebrate the season with families and to provide opportunities for fellowship with and support from other families and staff,” said Kelly Smith, MCH program administrator for the Western region. “These events also provide opportunity for community partners to show support for the families in our programs.”
Below are details of events hosted by each office location this year:
Abilene: The Abilene Christmas party was held at Beltway Coffee Company who offered the group a discounted price. Board games were on each table and families could also try Christmas crafts. “Getting to know you” bingo was available for the adults so all of the families could mingle. Staff also led a game involving a gigantic plastic wrap ball that was filled with prizes. Everyone had to wear oven mitts and had 30 seconds to unwrap the ball. The children also enjoyed Beltway’s indoor playground.
Albuquerque: The Albuquerque event this year was held at Christ United Methodist Church on Dec. 9. Chick-fil-A (general manager Jeremy Tafoya) generously agreed to provide food for the 50 guests as well as MCH staff and volunteers. MCH hosted a Christmas store event, in which families had the opportunity to shop for presents for one another. First, parents shopped for children and had the opportunity to choose from a plethora of donated gifts from Methodist churches in the community. After lunch, children had the opportunity to do the same for their parents or caregivers. In between shopping, families enjoyed Christmas songs, a Christmas skit and an arts and crafts project.
Bryan/CS: Staff took care in putting together gift baskets for caregivers and presents for children that are currently being served through their programs or were recently discharged. They then personally delivered the gifts to the family’s home or had them available to pick up at the office.
Corpus Christi: The Corpus Christi office partnered with Mission 911, a local shelter, to provide seven families with a Christmas tree, stand and boxed ornaments. Corpus Outreach also hosted a Christmas party on Dec. 15 at Hester’s Café. The venue and gifts were sponsored by St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. A total of 69 children and 25 families received Christmas gifts from Santa. Families were able to enjoy Christmas cookies and hot chocolate while the children made reindeer antler crafts. Families were able to take pictures with a Christmas backdrop designed by MCH staff. The local police and fire departments were also on site to allow children and families to tour the emergency vehicles. The police department passed out stuffed teddy bears to all in attendance. Staff said they all greatly enjoyed the event and felt very blessed to be allowed to spend this time in celebration with families.
Dallas: The Dallas Outreach office hired a balloon professional that was a hit with the kids. The Journey Men, a group from First United Methodist Church of Richardson, volunteer each year for the office and feed all of the families and kids attending the party. They supplied and served bacon, sausage, eggs, and biscuits and gravy to feed more than 100 guests. One of the volunteers also dressed up like Santa and most clients got their pictures taken with him. Every single child there was provided one gift from Santa. FUMC of Richardson provided their fellowship hall for the party. Three Christmas trees and a booth display were set up for photos. Most of the Christmas gifts this year were again supplied by First United Methodist Church in Coppell.
El Paso: On Dec. 14, El Paso Outreach celebrated its second annual Christmas celebration at Peter Piper Pizza for Gap and Family Solutions families. This year the attendance almost doubled from 50 to 97 attendees. The mascot for the El Paso Chihuahuas baseball team, Chico the dog, made a special appearance to play with the children and take pictures with families and staff. In addition, the staff entertained the children with arts and crafts projects and a game of reindeer ring toss. Thank you to the Chihuahuas baseball team and Chico for making this Christmas celebration memorable for our families.
Houston: The Houston foster care Christmas party was again held at Deer Park United Methodist Church. MCH foster children as well as biological children of the foster parents provided the entertainment, which included singing, reading Bible stories, praise dancing, and a magic trick. Thank you to Deer Park UMC for providing everything needed to make this occasion special for our families.
There were 15 adults and 26 children from the Gap and Family Solutions programs in attendance for the Christmas party on Dec. 16 at St. Luke's Methodist Church. They sang Christmas songs, played games, took pictures with Santa, ate, and decorated Christmas cookies. The families enjoyed themselves and the Christmas party was a success!
Killeen: Killeen welcomed families to their Christmas party on Dec. 16 at First United Methodist Church of Killeen. Volunteers from Trinity Baptist and Harker Heights UMC helped run the event by manning games, registration and restocking food. Chick-fil-A donated a portion of the food for families. Guests enjoyed decorating cookies, playing bingo, making crafts, and playing games.
Las Cruces: The Las Cruces staff hosted several family festivities this year in celebration of the holidays. First, they converted their conference room into a photo studio for families to take pictures and talk about what makes their family special. Las Cruces also partnered with the Fraternal Order of Police for “Shop with a Cop” where 11 families received vouchers for items along with help from a police officer who served as their shopping assistant. More than 70 people gathered for the Las Cruces Outreach office’s Winterfest on Dec. 15. The group enjoyed activities and food specially prepared by staff and members of the Gap Planning Committee. United Healthcare also provided Play-Doh for crafts, information and gifts for guests. Guests could also take home wreaths, ornaments, snowmen, jewelry, and other gifts they made during the festivities. The evening was topped off by a visit from Santa who took pictures with the children.
Lubbock: The Lubbock office had their annual Christmas party for Family Solutions and Gap clients on Dec. 6. The party was hosted again by the ladies at Lakeridge United Methodist Church. They provided the families with breakfast, donated by Chick-fil-A, and stockings stuffed with lots of goodies for each child in attendance. MCH Family Outreach staff provided each family with a basket full of household necessities and games for the children. The children sang Christmas carols and welcomed Santa and Mrs. Claus to the party while singing “Here Comes Santa Claus.” This year there were a total of 20 families with 60 children at the party and all enjoyed a time of fun and fellowship together.
San Antonio: On Dec. 2 the San Antonio office hosted “A Charlie Brown Christmas” party for foster families. Families and staff came together to celebrate the holidays and enjoy fellowship with one another at the University United Methodist Church. Children had several activity stations to choose from and completed several Charlie Brown arts and crafts projects. Children also received a special visit from Santa Claus and were surprised with Christmas presents. The Charlie Brown Christmas Party created a warm, inviting environment that allowed everyone to come together and celebrate the Christmas holiday.
Tyler: The Tyler Outreach office hosted two Christmas parties. On Dec. 8 the Mentoring Alliance/Boys and Girls Club of Tyler donated the use of their building space for the preservation family party. Jon Lasse of the Boys and Girls Club-Tyler donated his time and energy during the event. Guests were treated to pizza and cupcakes, crafts, a bounce house, and presents to take home.
For the foster family Christmas party, MCH Family Outreach in Tyler partnered with Marvin United Methodist Church again this year. Members of the church faithfully volunteer for this event each year and purchase gifts for the children. During the party children were given the opportunity to participate in activities ranging from engaging holiday crafts, to face-painting and a bounce house. Then, just down the hallway from these happenings, kids of all ages were able to visit with Santa Claus and share with him their detailed Christmas wishes. After this, all of the children in attendance opened presents that were provided for them from either Marvin United Methodist members or MCH Family Outreach. Chick-fil-A donated more than 100 sandwiches and nuggets for the lunch. After lunch the group enjoyed a cake and sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.
Waco: Together with staff in Waco Outreach, Baylor intern Phoebe Stanford planned a spectacular party for Family Solutions and Gap families. Central United Methodist Church and Senior Ministries provided about 85 personally selected gifts for the children. Nan Holmes from Central United Methodist Church attended the celebration and helped serve food and engaged with the children. Benefactor Betty Bender donated handmade hats for the children and Central UMC provided handmade blankets. During the party, staff provided a kid-friendly menu of pizza, a veggie tray, tea and cupcakes. Guests played bingo, decorated cookies and had a raffle drawing. Santa also stopped by to visit. Other generous donations included: Central UMC provided a financial offering to support the purchase of food and miscellaneous items; Tea-to-Go provided several gallons of tea, cups and ice; Magnolia Bakery provided 100 cupcakes and assorted cookies; Collin Street Bakery provided us with a generous discount on cookies for decorating; Shorty’s Pizza provided six free pizzas; and Papa Johns provided three free pizzas.
Thank you to all our friends who supported MCH Family Outreach offices this year!