This year, Christmas in Vassar started on December 8th when a semitruck full to the brim with Christmas donations pulls up next to the gymnasium. Thanks to Operation Good Cheer, the children at Wolverine Human Services receive giant bags of Christmas Cheer each year. From there, our dedicated staff and volunteers unpack the donations into the gym to be sorted. Countless hours are spent unwrapping and sorting the gifts. However, participants’ smiles never waver knowing that they are the reason Christmas happens on the Vassar campus.
Once the gifts are sorted and organized, staff have the opportunity to shop for their clients. As they know our children the best, staff are able to personalize gift bags to the individuals they care for. After all of the gifts are claimed and re-wrapped, they are hidden around campus to avoid the eyes of kids. There is not a single office on campus that isn’t secretly packed to the brim with skateboards or sweatshirts and for weeks, all WHS staff on campus struggle to keep a straight face.
Finally, the week before Christmas, our clients in Vassar celebrate together. Dante Jennings, a dedicated Wolverine Human Services employee, graciously volunteered to play Santa and each camp takes their turn meeting with Santa, unwrapping gifts, and enjoying a Christmas FEAST!
As each camp enters the gift room they take a seat around Santa. While the boys try their hardest to seem cool, many of the girls show off with performances of Christmas songs. Judith Wollack, our ever-dedicated CEO, smiles with the children and delivers her Christmas spiel. Each group gets the chance to scream “Merry Christmas” as loud as they can. If they try to opt out, they are threatened with the possibility of singing a Christmas carol instead. Every group decides to partake in the cheer and then quickly turns to open their presents.
Once all of the gifts have been unwrapped, our clients pose for pictures with Santa. Following this, they are ushered into the dining area where they enjoy every teenagers’ dream Christmas feast: Flaming Hot Cheetos, Taquitos, Pizza Rolls, and Mac N Cheese.
Although this does not occur on Christmas Day- for many residents, this is Christmas. On Christmas day many of our children are given the opportunity to go home. However, this still leaves roughly 70% of them on campus in our care. They do not fret because there are still many festivities for the day of Christmas. Our clients in Vassar enjoy another Christmas brunch and receive a stocking full of knickknacks. The rest of the day is spent relaxing and watching movies among staff and residents who truly care for them.
Merry Christmas from Wolverine Human Services!