Part 2 of Anabella's journey to support children in homeless shelters
After school let out Thursday for the winter break Anabella went on to raise over $1000 in the one week, which in turn inspired her to buy presents for each child that had to spend Christmas in a shelter.
“Our family made several large shopping outings and had many wrapping parties. It was a push but we finished Sunday, ready to deliver on Monday, Christmas Eve,” said Gina, Anabella’s mother. When they were delivering to their second shelter on Christmas Eve, they found themselves in a converted motel in the canal. “It is great the families have access to this housing, however it was heartbreaking to see entire families living in one room and the rooms were stark and bare with boxes for furniture,” Anabella said.
They noticed there were more children than names that were given to them. Anabella’s mom mentioned this to the manager and she said, that they didn't think Anabella was going to raise enough money so they only gave them a few names.
Gina said with a smile on her face, “well you don't know us.” She told them that she didn't know how, but that they were going to get presents for every child and asked for the additional names, ages and genders. “I didn't know if it would be by Christmas with it being only the next day, but I knew we would be back.” Gina asked for the room numbers of the children so if they were able to return in the morning, they could deliver them to their doors. “As we left, my heart ached. My son and Anabella and I pulled over after we left and cried.” They posted an update on Facebook and the response was immediate and overwhelming. People offered more money, gifts and help to get these additional gifts. All of this took place at 2 pm on Monday, Christmas Eve.
They texted their Pastor and asked him to put it out to their church. He said he would, but that the church would cover whatever they couldn't raise and to go get the presents. Their family made a circuitous route through Marinwood picking up everyone's additional contributions. “Our community is so generous!” exclaimed Gina.>At the end of the first service, their pastor quickly mentioned what Anabella was doing and if people wanted to help they could come up to her after the service. Hundreds of people flocked to her after the services, surrounding her, thanking her and donating what they were to find out later that night was over $2000!
They regrouped with several families and groups of friends who wanted to help too. They split into teams to be able to get it all done rapidly coordinating by text and phone sending what they needed to our shoppers. They came back to their house and wrapped until midnight. They regrouped at Gina's house in the morning and filled their cars with presents. (Christmas morning!!) “We arrived at the shelter and started to knock on doors. Some families were not home, but little children started to come out onto the balconies to see what was happening.” said Anabella.
In the end they delivered presents and gift cards for food to each of the new families plus additional presents and gift cards for food to the other families. Each family received a huge gift bag overflowing with presents and gift cards. Each present for each child was addressed to that child and signed by Anabella. Parents hugged them and they all shared stories and the children were so excited! “Where we had seen sadness and despair the day before, we saw warmth, joy and happiness,” sighed Gina and Anabella. What started out as a moment of sadness as a family passed a homeless man on the street turned into the raising of over $4000 in gifts so that nearly 50 children could have presents on Christmas. To Anabella it was sort of matter of fact like, "..of course, that's what we should all do." She was thrilled to give the gifts to the children directly and with each present signed by her, it was another smile on a child’s face somewhere. What a wonderful gift, on so many levels!