Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana believes every kid who walks through its doors deserves a special Christmas, so when President of Luxor Homes, Inc. Randy Hall approached the organization looking for a way to make sure kids had a happy holiday, the annual “Christmas to Remember” was born. "Christmas to Remember" is a special event where kids fill out Christmas wish lists and receive gifts from generous donors.
“We’ve always had great sponsors who come to us saying they want the kids to have a good Christmas, so we did something like this on a smaller scale,” said Stephanie Hamilton, Director of Marketing for Boys & Girls Clubs. “Randy Hall at Luxor Homes pitched the idea of hosting a big Christmas party where kids receive these gifts and celebrate together. It just snowballed from there.”
Now in its third year, “Christmas to Remember” has become one of the Boys & Girls Clubs’ biggest annual events, bringing in donors from organizations and businesses around the area to support the effort. Boys & Girls Clubs staff and volunteers formed a “Christmas to Remember” committee to fundraise and handle the logistics of the event.
“The committee works hard to reach out to companies and individuals every year,” Hamilton said. “This year, we have two co-presenting sponsors: Peoples Bank and Strack & Van Til, along with other incredible sponsors who are helping to make this Christmas special.”
Other sponsors of this year’s “Christmas to Remember” were Greater Northwest Indiana Association; Computer Services, Inc.; Valpo Car Company; Hammond Group, Inc.; Luxor Homes, Inc.; Sheet Metal Workers Local 20; BMO Harris Bank; Regional Federal Credit Union; and Community Hospital.
Before the big event, members filled out their wish lists with items ranging from clothes to gift cards to toys. The committee and a generous group of volunteers meet up for a special shopping trip at Target, where they shop for all the kids and prepare for the festivities.
“Usually, we all meet up at Target to shop together, but this year, due to COVID-19, we had people go out on their own with the lists,” Hamilton said.
This year’s “Christmas to Remember” looked different than in past years. Instead of one big Christmas party, each Club hosted its own small-scale party with its members in mid-December. All 10 of the organization’s Clubs hosted parties this year where kids had the chance to meet Santa, eat pizza and cookies, hang out with their friends, and, of course, open their Christmas gifts as a family.
“When the kids opened their gifts together, it truly was magical,” Hamilton said. “Despite the changes to how the event was run this year, seeing the joy on the kids’ faces was priceless. At one party, a young boy was so excited about his LEGOS that he was hugging them. Seeing those little moments is so important because even if they aren’t opening them up on Christmas Day, we know that they got to open something.”
“I got so much!” said Karter R. from the Hammond Club. “This is the best day of my life!”
After the holiday break, kids can also look forward to opening a few more gifts - this time ones they can enjoy at their Club.
“Along with our Christmas wish lists, we also have our Amazon wish lists,” Hamilton said. “Because we have fewer kids this year, we had our Clubs pick things they can use or items they need so that when the kids return from holiday break, they can open up these gifts for their Club together.”
Each Club picked out items used in the Clubs every day from basketballs and yoga mats to books and toys.
“We can’t wait for the kids to come back and open those gifts for their Club,” Hamilton said.
To check out photos from the “Christmas to Remember” parties, visit Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/bgcgreaternwi. For more information about the Clubs and how you can get involved, visit their website at https://www.bgcgreaternwi.org/.