An amazing effort by one woman from Alabama is making sure that hundreds of families affected by Hurricane Harvey will have gifts under the tree this Christmas.
It started as a Facebook group called Holidays for Harvey, and today, it’s become a godsend for parents, who, otherwise, would not be celebrating the holiday.
“It’s sad, but it brought so much joy and had we not had Aileen and her family, we would’ve had a Christmas, but a very small Christmas," said Robinn Graves.
For Graves, Aileen is her secret angel.
“She has selflessly said 'I want nothing but to provide for somebody else,'" said Graves.
She's her saving grace.
“It feels like Harvey has not stopped hitting," she said.
Aileen is also her complete stranger.
“She had already decided it in her heart that she needed to give to another cause, of her Christmas," said Graves.
Flooding from Harvey was just a few inches inside Graves’s home, but it meant thousands of dollars and months of construction.
“With the house repairs and the contractor issues, or insurance, it’s hard. It’s hard to even think about," she said.
It was harder to even think about how Graves and her husband were going to put gifts under the tree for their five children.
Until she got online.
“I really only expected a couple dozen families, I really didn’t expect anything like this," Courtney Adams said.
Holidays for Harvey - that’s what Courtney Adams called it. A group with only one goal.
“I very plainly heard God tell me to provide Christmas and to figure out a way to use social media to provide Christmas for these families since I couldn’t be there in person," Adams said.
And that’s what she’s done - Christmas for nearly 200 families from people all across the country.
The families of course are in Houston, but Aileen is in New Jersey. Others are from Washington, New York, Florida and even California.
Aileen’s first gift has already arrived.
“When we found the tree box on the door, we set it up that night so that the kids would wake up in the morning and see the Christmas tree and have a sense that Christmas was going to be able to come for our family," Graves said.
And through Amazon wishlists, more are on the way.
“They realize that there is still a need. They realize that the hurricane is gone, but the storm, is still in a lot of people’s lives," Graves said.
Unfortunately, Holidays for Harvey is no longer accepting families.
But if you would like to donate, KHOU 11 News is hosting a Secret Santa Toy Drive.
The Secret Santa Toy Drive benefits the Salvation Army's Angel Tree Program, which provides Christmas assistance to disadvantaged children in our area.
Now through December 21st, you can be a Secret Santa to a child in need by donating new, unwrapped toys at locations throughout the Houston area – including participating sponsor locations and various community partner locations.
Drop-off toys 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday at any of the below locations:
Temple Corps Community Center – 4516 Irvington Blvd., Houston, TX 77009 – (713) 692-0522
Aldine Westfield Corps Community Center – 2600 Aldine Westfield Rd., Houston, TX 77093 – (713) 695-3388.
International Corps Community Center – 7920 Cook Rd., Houston, TX 77072 – (713) 988-5201
Northwest Corps Community Center – 12507 Windfern Rd., Houston, TX 77064 – (832) 200-4620