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
    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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.