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Holiday Cheer at CALICO!

Yesterday, CALICO held its 5th Annual Holiday Shop. This year, generous community supporters including the Alta Mira Club and Iron Legacy Motorcycle Club joined our partner agencies like the Newark Police Department, collecting toys to donate to CALICO. They delivered to us a staggering amount of new toys and plushies. This is when the fun at our office began. We used these toys to transform our conference room into a toy store for children of all ages. We spread toys, gift cards, and brand-new children's pajamas across every surface we could find, creating a scene that could have come right out of the North Pole.

Our Family Advocates invited caregivers they worked with throughout the year, identifying those who were most in need of some extra support during the holiday period, to visit our "store." These adults were able to "shop" for presents, selecting the toys and items they thought their children would enjoy best. Staff and volunteers wrapped these presents and provided name labels so that the caregivers could choose to put either their name or Santa's as the gift giver. Each adult left with a large bag of wrapped gifts for their children. Our shop opened and 10 AM, and by its close at 7 PM, we had given away over 600 toys to clients that need them most.

CALICO started the Holiday Shop as a way to strengthen families. Those of us in this line of work know that the best way to support a child can be to support his or her caregiver. Thus, rather than having the toys be a direct gift from CALICO to the children, we chose to create this store to give dignity and choice to the caring adults in their families. They got to choose exactly what their child would like, rather than us guessing at this. Much more importantly, the gifts came from them (or Santa), not CALICO. We hope this difference helps brighten the holidays for both the child and the caregiver. After all, giving a gift to one's child can bring as much happiness as receiving something. It certainly brought joy to all of us to help spread this generosity. It was also wonderful to get to see some of our clients again, this time under much happier circumstances. With a little help from our supporters and partners, not to mention a dash of holiday magic, we had a happy time at our office.

We wish all of you - and your families - a joyful holiday season!

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