TYLER – BCFS Health and Human Services held its annual Christmas celebration for Tyler youth and teens, December 18 at the Holiday Inn South. Almost 100 youth and their families plus volunteers enjoyed Christmas treats, a hot cocoa bar, a gift exchange, and a dance complete with a DJ. The youth come from a variety of backgrounds – the foster care system, Child Protective Services, and some from unstable, or poverty-stricken households. They all have one thing in common – they turn to BCFS Health and Human Services for help transitioning from disadvantaged backgrounds, to self-sufficiency and adulthood.
“The party’s theme – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – is meant to simulate that cozy, homey feeling you enjoy nestled up by a crackling fire with your family, gifts under the tree, and that feeling of joy and peace at Christmastime,” said BCFS director Carla McCalope. “Since many of our youth can’t experience it in their own homes, due to lack of resources or family strife, we tried to replicate it here. They all deserve to experience the joy of the holidays.”
Holiday Inn South in Tyler donated the hot cocoa bar and two ballrooms where 68 youth and 29 volunteers enjoyed Christmas hor d’oeuvres, a dance, a gift exchange, and a Christmas scene with photo props.
The gift exchange was a memorable moment, says McCalope. About 80 partygoers gathered in a circle with wrapped gifts in-hand. As a Christmas story was read aloud, guests listened intently for the words “left” or “right,” and passed their gifts in a circle accordingly. When the story was complete, they unwrapped their gifts to find tablets, portable DVD players and headphones, provided by BCFS.
“It was fun watching everyone pass their gifts around, and fun to hear the party get quiet so they could hear the story and the instructions as I was reading,” McCalope recalls.
Several of BCFS’ community partners donated time or services in support of the event. Brosang’s Flowers of Tyler donated a Christmas wreath and decorative greenery to compliment the party’s theme meant to simulate a cozy Christmas in the family living room. Event security services were donated by Shepherd Guard Security, and staff from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services attended as guests and chaperones.
BCFS Health and Human Services in Tyler is a safe-haven for local youth, helping those at risk of homelessness, poverty or other challenges transition successfully into adulthood and independence. Many of the youth served at the BCFS center in Tyler were removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect and went into foster care. The center provides case management, counseling, mentorships, assistance with education, employment and housing location, life skills programs and courses for youth.
For more information about BCFS Health and Human Services’ work in Tyler, visit DiscoverBCFS.net/Tyler.