Hundreds of Families Got To Celebrate Christmas A Little Early

December 14, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Sunday, during the annual "Hope for the Holidays" party for homeless families with children. The party was thrown by Fresno Unified parents couldn't have been more appreciative of the support. Fresno Police motor bikes guided Santa's sleigh into Valdez Hall Saturday, spreading holiday cheer and hope to hundreds of families who may not otherwise have a Christmas celebration. The families are considered "homeless" by Fresno Unified, though many don't necessarily live on the streets. "Primarily we have a lot of doubled and tripled up families who do not have a place to call their own and they're moving place to place," said Laura Tanner-McBrien, a program manager for Fresno Unified.

This will be the first year Delores Zavala gets to spend Christmas with her four kids. She's living in emergency housing after a battle with substance abuse. "It's wonderful. It's a blessing that Fresno County has these kind of organizations and stuff like this for people who don't have really anything. It's good they had this," said Zavala.

In addition to children's activities and live entertainment, families were also treated to a free meal catered and donated by Pardini's. After lunch each child also got a wrapped Christmas gift and each present was also evidence of the community's giving spirit. Organizers say they found out just days ago that "Toys for Tots" would not be able to donate all the toys necessary. "I sent a few emails and when that happened, people were responding left and right. We had thousand dollar donations coming in," said Tanner-McBrien.

While one little girl could only describe their feelings with a single word, "happy," parents say the showing of support brings out a lot of emotions. "I kind of feel overwhelmed, because of all the support that is out there for families that are out there in need," said Shanett Singh.

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