HOUSTON — Having gifts on Christmas is not a guarantee for many families, especially children in our area. But you can change that by donating to our KHOU 11 Secret Santa Toy Drive.
For Apolos Kahsay, Christmas is the most magical time of the year.
“I get like clothes, pants, shoes, and the gifts I want," Kahsay said
Kahsay is one of 12 children and each year on Christmas morning they wake up to find gifts under the tree -- all thanks to the Salvation Army Angel Tree Program.
Their father, Berhane Asgedom, knows without the Salvation Army, Christmas wouldn’t be as bright.
“We are a big family. It would have cost us more than thousands," Asgedom said.
Asgedom's family came to the U.S. as refugees back in 2016. Their time here hasn’t been the easiest. One of their daughters, Sesinna, was killed at 8 years old in a hit-and-run accident a few years ago.
But at Christmas, they can feel a little more joy than pain with help from a Secret Santa donation.
“I love them to be part of the community. They feel loved and cared because they never miss it -- getting gifts every year from the Salvation Army," Asgedom said.
Inside Santa’s Workshop at the Salvation Army, volunteers are already bagging up gifts for Asgedom's family, but there are 800 other kids and senior citizens, also known as angels, that still need to be adopted.
“It’s a lot harder to adopt seniors,” explained Major Carolynn Webb, area commander of the Houston Salvation Army. “It is harder; a lot of people like little kids.”
Webb said often seniors feel embarrassed about asking for help.
“It’s really hard because a lot of them have pride," she said."They’ve worked all their lives and now they are in a situation where they need help.”
This year, out of about 1,600 Houston-area seniors, only 800 have been adopted, according to Webb. The deadline to adopt is Dec. 4.
“Oh, it’s heartbreaking sometimes because they just come in and they just cry," Webb said.
How You Can Donate
Now through December 3, you can be a Secret Santa to a child in need by donating new, unwrapped toys at participating sponsor locations found on the map below.
If you can’t make it to a drop-off location, toys and monetary donations can easily be made online.
On Thursday, December 1 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., we will host a virtual telethon to help us reach our donation goal!
Last year, we were able to collect $102,000 in monetary and toy donations for families in our area. Let’s do it again this year, and make sure that no child wakes up Christmas morning without a toy under the tree.
Thank you for making the holiday season brighter for those in need and helping us Stand for Houston!