I just received a thank you note (below) from youth at Naselle Youth Camp. The Associate Superintendent reports that some youth characterized this Christmas as the best Christmas they have ever had.
I think we, the social we, need to hold in our hearts what it means for a child to have the best Christmas they’ve ever experienced in a secure detention facility. To me, that means that they have been failed in systemic ways that are beyond my ability to fix. But together, I believe we can work on fixing them.
Thank you all for participating in the gift drive!
Rev. Terri Jane Stewart
Christmas day rolled around and once again we gathered. We heard the choir singing with an occasional giggle and kazoo. Cookies and Red Vines showed up along with Santa and his helper!
A generous spirit was in the air.
Because of donations to the King County Juvenile Detention Center, we were able to witness youth realize the abundance of community. A young woman alone in the world receiving love. A young man with the largest stack of presents he has ever had. We witnessed a Christmas miracle!
One thing that is fun every year is to see the kids put on all clothing they get. They keep putting it on! Layer over layer. They are visibly delighted.
One thing that is sad every year is noticing who is here this year. Again.
Thank you for your continued support and commitment to the most vulnerable youth in King County. Because of your gifts, grace and mercy were present!
My dream is that it can be Christmas for these youth every day. That the amount of concern shown on Christmas day will be shown every day of their lives. And the gifts given will be given during ordinary time.
This afternoon, I was handed a pile of thank you notes for my small part in helping the youth in detention have a better Christmas. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and amazed at the honesty of the youth. I’d like to share a few excerpts.
“You gave us a better Christmas and more hope.”
“This was my second time having Christmas in my 14 years of life. And it was one of the best ones.”
“You don’t know how happy it makes me to know someone has taken the time out of their life to make me a happy person on Christmas.”
“It was so touching to know someone cares about the ones that sometime feel forgotten.”
“I have not had a Christmas in 5 years. You guys made my day with the gifts you got. I really am thankful.”
“Growing up Christmas never meant much to me. It was just another day of another month of another year. I’ve found that I don’t look forward to this time of year. Being in jail I thought this time of year could not get much worse but yet waking up on Christmas morning I still had hope. Hope because I had heard what Christmas is like in here but I did not want to let myself believe it…I cannot begin to describe to you the overwhelming joy and happiness that came over me. Because of you my Christmas was made and to me it did not matter what gifts I got, it was more meaningful to me that someone cared enough to help someone else out.”
Went in this morning to be with the youth as they celebrated Christmas in detention. This is a weird time for them. On the one hand, they are in detention. On the other hand, for some, they are getting more gifts than they have ever gotten before in their lifetime. All gifts are donated by the community. Here’s a photo essay (all the kid’s identities are protected).