Now that the holiday season is over and the new year has begun, I want to take a moment to reflect on the Holidays and 2016 at Huck House. Although technically in 2015, I want to start with our last Holiday Gift Drive.

2015 was my first Gift Drive as the Development Assistant at Huck House and I was surprised by the generosity of our donors. I was privileged to get a close look at the donations and interact with the donors themselves.  It really warmed my heart, and frankly, was very overwhelming! When all was done, we gave gifts to all 113 youth who were currently in our programs and even gave gifts to some youth who had recently left a program, or were otherwise connected with Huck House.

After the holidays came Valentine’s Day. Through “Hearts for Huck House,” a social media campaign, we gave chocolate hearts and valentines to youth at Huck House to show them some love on this holiday. I was humbled by people’s willingness to send a Valentine to a complete stranger and our youth were surprised and touched. (Be on the lookout for Hearts for Huck House 2017!)

My next undertaking was a graduation party. In the spring of 2016, eight Huck House youth graduated from high school. While in high school some of the youth worked full time, cared for families and/or faced unimaginably difficult living environments and situations. Hearing their struggles made me realize how very much I took my own high school experience for granted. I am so inspired by the youth at Huck House and the stories they share. Celebrating their accomplishments with a graduation party was really special.

Before I reflect on the most recent Gift Drive, I can’t forget to mention the renovation of the Round Room (aka the Education Room) and the Annual Youth Awards. Perhaps two of the biggest things to happen to Huck House last year and neither would have been possible without countless volunteer hours and donations.

Finally, the Holiday Gift Drive of 2016. Although it was my second time sorting gifts, I was still shocked by the sheer amount of donations! We received many more gifts than the prior year and any other year before. In 2016, 133 youth in our programs received gifts, with a few extra gifts picked up for other youth associated with Huck House. Not only did we serve more youth, but the gifts were more personalized and more significant. On top of that, we also had donations left over to save for birthdays, graduation or next year’s drive.

There is such a tremendous need in this community, but it is so very heartening to see the endless dedication of our great staff, the perseverance of our youth, and the tremendous compassion and generosity of our donors.