Support from our Friends
Methodist Children’s Home is blessed with many friends who support our mission to serve children, youth and families during the Christmas season.
Because of generous donations during the holidays, every child on our residential campuses has presents under the tree. Volunteers spend hours wrapping each gift and other volunteer groups help deliver the gifts to homes. Elsewhere, families served by MCH Family Outreach attend Christmas parties where local churches and agencies donate a place to gather, food, gifts or other special additions to the celebrations.
“The donations we receive from our benefactors during the Christmas season are vital to our ministry,” said Trey Oakley, vice president for development. “Obviously these gifts help meet the daily needs of those we serve. But they also send a powerful message to residents, families and staff that they are not alone and that we have many friends partnering with us in our mission to offer hope.”
Oakley noted that this message lasts long after Christmas trees and decorations are gone.
“We are grateful for the prayers, gifts and words of encouragement shared by our benefactors,” he said. “Their generosity is helping save and change lives every day of the year.”
MCH begins several months prior to December to make sure every child in residential care knows someone cares about them during Christmas. Through the years MCH has been blessed by several churches who have a tradition of giving gifts to our children. Churches all across Texas and New Mexico also play a crucial role by taking up a Christmas Offering for MCH. The Christmas Offering is the longest-standing tradition at MCH, beginning in 1895 as a way to sustain the orphanage and inspire people to give. MCH is also grateful to individuals who sponsor gifts for children through the Secret Santa program.
Today, MCH still relies heavily on the generosity of its benefactors during Christmas – approximately 60 percent of donations contributed to the Annual Fund are received during this season of giving. We are thankful to our friends who give of their time, talents and treasure in order to support our children during Christmas and throughout the year.
Blessing Our Children
Methodist Children’s Home cares about making every child feel special during the holiday season understanding that this time of year can be especially challenging being away from family. With the help of supporters who bless our children each year, MCH is able to create a joyous environment filled with experiences that celebrate the spirit of Christmas.
Leading up to the holiday, youth on the residential campuses attend concerts, decorate Christmas cookies and attend off-campus activities such as Christmas performances or Holiday in the Park at Six Flags. Along with their staff and peers they also decorate their homes to build anticipation for the holiday.
The Christmas celebration for residents was hosted for many years by supporter Joe Perkins, whose love for MCH and its children began after he passed by the campus and saw children playing outside. He returned to the campus with a bushel of apples and passed them out to the children. He continued to support MCH and began the Perkins Party in 1935 where in celebration of how he first met the children, he brought in apples, other fruit, nuts, candy and money to pass out to the children. The parties continued even after his death as his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren sustained the tradition which spanned seven decades.
After the Perkins Party ended in 2005, the legacy and generosity of the Perkins and Prothro families continued as the children still receive a Christmas gift from the family each year. The residential campus now celebrates Carols and Candles, a special worship service followed by dinner and gifts in the homes.
The special worship service is led almost entirely by MCH youth and this year included a choir, soloists, a speaker telling the story of Christmas, instrumentalists, praise dancers, and a bell choir. Kim Clark, director of spiritual development at MCH, said more than 30 students participated in the service.
“We want our youth to experience the anticipation of the coming of Christ as they did in biblical times, but also His present coming into our lives and hearts, as well as His future coming,” Clark said. “Having them prepare and lead was a way for them to take ownership of the service.
“It was also an opportunity for them to be actively involved in Advent,” Clark said. “Students were not bystanders; they themselves were responsible for conveying the Advent story through dramatic Scripture reading, dance and song.”
Encouraging Our Families
MCH Family Outreach offices in 13 communities across Texas and New Mexico support families throughout the year. During the holiday season, staff members strive to maintain the consistency and effectiveness of services during a time when there can be many distractions, according to Kelly Smith, program administrator for the Western region.
“The families receiving services in our programs feel the same pull for time and energy, financial stressors, and management of family responsibilities in a busy season,” Smith said. “Often these are combined with finding activities for children out of school while trying to work a job that doesn’t allow for much time off, managing family conflict, and helping children navigate emotions related to separation from parents or other family members.
“We certainly want to keep up the support we offer through foster care, Family Solutions and Gap programming, and also pay a little extra attention to those families who might struggle more during the holiday times,” she said.
In addition to services, MCH Family Outreach offices host holiday celebrations for families that may include food, crafts for the children, games, and opportunities for fellowship. Several locations have church or other agency partners who sponsor part of an event, such as providing food, pictures with Santa or gifts for the families.
Partnering agencies also may help families served through MCH Family Outreach in other special ways. For example, this year in Las Cruces, the Fraternal Order of Police sponsored a “Shop with a Cop” event where children received shopping vouchers along with a police officer to serve as their “shopping assistant.” In Corpus Christi, a local shelter called Mission 911 partnered with the office to donate Christmas trees, stands and ornaments for families.
Staff in each location also take time to celebrate together as a team by doing potluck meals, gift exchanges or by volunteering together in the community.