Emergency Santa program helps where it’s most needed
Dec 18, 2005
"The bulk of our kids come in the last week,’’ said Baker, director and founder of the CARE Partnership in Mesa. "We’re even here on Christmas Day.’’
About 2,700 children received Christmas gifts last year through the program, where parents shop for clothing, toys, stockings and books. For many kids, it’s the only Santa they’ve known.
As "payment’’ for shopping, the partnership asks participants to volunteer anywhere in the community for at least an hour per child helped. Baker likens this deal to planting a seed and becoming "part of the solution.’’ Some families return every year to volunteer, regardless of whether or not they need help.
The concept continues to impress one woman who showed up Dec. 10 with a bagful of toys and an open checkbook. She began donating when Emergency Santa — and the partnership — consisted of a small shed on Baker’s property.
As Baker encourages community involvement, her own experiences as a single mother raising four children remind her why the program is necessary.
"There was always someone there who made things a little easier,’’ she said. "Some of it is maybe a little social justice.’’
Bev Tittle Baker began running the Community Asset Resource Enterprise Partnership out of her Mesa home in 1994. Now located on a lot next door, the nonprofit helps thousands of low-income families in the Valley all year long. Its well-rounded approach covers clothing, food, education and even health services. For example, an on-site pediatrician provides exams for uninsured children. A family planning clinic focuses on prenatal care, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and raising awareness about abstinence. Baker said people from all walks of life seek help through the partnership.
Starting Dec. 17, families may visit the Emergency Santa shop by appointment. Children who can’t find help from another source are eligible. Donations for the program can be dropped off at the CARE Partnership at 466 S. Bellview St., off Broadway Road between Mesa Drive and Horne in Mesa. Volunteer opportunities are always available. Information: (480) 833-8987. Items needed include warm clothes such as sweat suits for elementary school children, as well as sporting goods, dolls and board games. As for other donations, "money is always the right size and color,’’ said Bev Tittle Baker, executive director.
Contact Andy Hobbs by email, or phone (480) 898-6418
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