News / USA

Bringing Christmas Cheer to Homeless Children

New Orleans man organizes a holiday party for young people who have no place to call home

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +
Faiza Elmasry

This year, 200 homeless children received toys at the Christmas for Forgotten Angels party.
This year, 200 homeless children received toys at the Christmas for Forgotten Angels party.

Christmas is a festive time, especially for children. Families gather to celebrate the holidays with delicious meals and wrapped gifts. But for children whose families have no home of their own, Christmas can be a sad time.

To put a smile on homeless children's faces at this time of year, one man in New Orleans, Louisiana, organizes a Christmas party for what he calls the "Forgotten Angels."

Getting started

When Clarence Adams applied to be a counselor at a New Orleans homeless shelter 16 years ago, he knew very little about homelessness.

"After the interview, they gave me a tour in the building and it was lunch time," Adams says. "And I saw children there. That really bothered me. I just never thought about a child being homeless."

Adams got the job and took it upon himself to help the kids coming to the shelter in any way he could. He went with their parents to register them for school and organized donation drives for school supplies. One day as the holidays neared, he talked to a friend about what it might be like for homeless children to celebrate Christmas.

Children pose for a picture with their news toys alongside their parents and volunteers.
Children pose for a picture with their news toys alongside their parents and volunteers.

"Basically the only thing that these kids had to look forward to was having their Christmas dinner in the shelter with hundreds of people who they didn't know," he says. "I mentioned to my friend that if I ever got rich, I would just have a big party for homeless children. She said, 'Well, let's do it.'"

That's how the Christmas for Forgotten Angels party started 12 years ago.

Christmas for Forgotten Angels

"The first year we had approximately 50 children. And I had my food service manager from the shelter cook the meal," Adams says. "We had fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. We had some desserts and we were able to give all the kids toys and we had Santa Claus."

But organizing that party all alone, he says, was overwhelming.

"I swore I would not do that again because it was too much work," he says. "But at the party, seeing the faces on these kids, having them come up and give me a hug and say, 'Thank you,' to see how much joy this brought to these children who would otherwise have nothing. I determined at the end I had to do this every year."

Reports about his Christmas party now appear in local newspapers every year. That's resulted in having dozens of volunteers contact Adams to donate their time as well as clothing, toys and food. This year, however, a weak economy has impacted the party.

"I do see the donations this year down somewhat from last year but people are still very generous," Adams says. "We had a group of volunteers that came for like three years in a row from Georgia. I know that last year, we got checks from four different states. I had a family that brought some toys last week. Their 7-year-old son had a $20 bill that he had saved up money from his allowance all year so he could help."

Helping out

Volunteers who can't afford to donate money come and help wrap the gifts and prepare for the party. Tiffani Hicks, a 29-year-old single mother, helped out for the first time this year.

"It's a very family atmosphere," she says. "We have other volunteers that are helping. We're all sitting around, talking. It's a very warm, loving atmosphere."

Doing something to make homeless children happy is important to Hicks. She says she knows exactly how they feel at Christmastime, because she was homeless as a child herself.

"I felt like I wasn't loved. I felt like I didn't deserve it," Hicks says. "I just felt like nobody cared about me. My Mom died when I was five years old and my aunt, she took care of us. She did what she could do for us. So we never really had a Christmas or whatever like that. It just makes you feel awful. Then after the holidays you have to go back to school and everyone is talking about what they got for Christmas, so you're kind of making up things that you wish you would have gotten, so you can fit in."

With dozens of volunteers like Tiffani Hicks, Clarence Adams says they were able to serve more than 200 homeless kids this year. The Christmas for Forgotten Angels organizer says he'd like to see his community's support and commitment to making homeless children feel special continue all year round and not just during the holidays.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid