Hood County Christmas for Children first was formed in 1994 and has been serving families across Hood County ever since.
The group participates in Operation School Supplies through Granbury ISD and collects toys, clothes and gifts to give to children across the county for Christmas.
If a family qualifies, they are able to sign up for three specific gifts per child.
“They get their three gifts with some stocking stuffers, but also every child gets hygiene products, a book, a blanket and various other items,” HCCC President Shane Deshoutel said.
Deshoutel has been with the organization for five years and became a board member within two years of joining. He later served as vice president and is now in his second year as president.
“I was completely shocked when I saw how the program worked and I was actually introduced to this organization through Leadership Granbury. I saw how Christmas for Children operated and how many kids it was able to provide to,” Deshoutel said. “Last year alone we were able to provide Christmas for 1,800 kids. We also take care of kids in the foster system. I’m a sucker to help out kids, so I immediately jumped in and signed up to be on the board.”
The organization partners with the Salvation Army to purchase beds for kids in need. The group gave out over 80 beds last year according to Deshoutel.
They also raise money to purchase as many bikes as possible and assemble them. Last year the HCCC assembled around 200 bikes.
“We keep a rotating cycle so if a kid gets a bed, they can ask for another one in five years. If they get a bike, they can request another one in three years,” Deshoutel noted. “That way if we can’t afford to buy one for every kid that requests one, it’ll cycle through and hopefully every third year we are able to provide for every single kid that requests one.”
Deshoutel added that none of what the organization does would be possible without the support of county residents, which he called “overwhelming.”
After the toys are collected, the group moves into the barn at the Reunion Grounds and gets to work. Inside the barn, the organization also sets up its own store with all the toys and donated items for the toy drives around the county.
Deshoutel explained the volunteers are there for about three weeks straight working in the barn until the big distribution day.
On the distribution day, families drive through as volunteers bring out everything the children are getting for Christmas. Families will receive an email around the first week of December with more information on picking up.
When it comes to the future of the organization, Deshoutel is looking forward to updating and streamlining as much as possible.
“It’s truly rewarding (being a part of this organization). I grew up with a single mother, so I know what it’s like to struggle and not have those special moments around the holidays and be able to have things. That’s why when we give things to the families and the parents, we do it while the kids are still in school so they can pick up without them. Nothing’s wrapped, that way the parents can choose to wrap it or give it to them however they want, and it can be from them. It’s truly about just making sure no matter what the family’s economic status is, that they get to enjoy Christmas morning and have the same excitement and happiness as other families.”
Distribution day will take place on Dec. 14. Those interested in donating to HCCC or becoming a volunteer can go to the group’s Facebook page to stay informed with the latest updates and information.