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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid