Family Provides Christmas to Youth – 21 Years and Counting
January 5, 2022
Answering the Call to Help Children
How It All Started
Jeff always enjoyed participating in the toy drive hosted by his church. However, one Christmas, he felt called to do more. Jeff and his family raised thousands of dollars and excitedly contacted a local children’s organization with the news that he wanted to buy gifts for the youth they help. To his surprise and disappointment, the organization turned him away with a, “we’re all set for Christmas!” After recovering from the shock of having his donation turned down, he reached out to another organization only to be told, “thank you but no.” Jeff, refusing to give up, reached out to organization after organization with no luck. Until the day he drove by a help wanted sign posted by St. Joseph Orphanage (now NewPath Child & Family Solutions).
Determined to try one last time, he called the number. A woman named Lois answered the phone, and he said, “Hi, my name is Jeff Rosa. I have a unique thing to ask. I have some money to donate that will cover 40-50 kids and would love to help out with their Christmas gifts this year.” His brief speech received silence on the other side. Thinking she hung up or the phone line cut out, Jeff was ready to give up until he realized she was crying.
Two weeks before this call, St. Joseph Orphanage (NewPath) received the terrible news that their Christmas sponsor backed out and would not supply gifts that year. Lois prayed and prayed that somehow, they could bring Christmas to the youth they serve. Lois finally responded and explained how Jeff was the answer to her prayers.
Going the Extra Mile for Others
The Rosa Family shopped and wrapped all the gifts, but Jeff felt the call once again to do more. He wanted to provide children with more than just presents. Reaching back out to Lois, Jeff explained his idea for a party with food, music, and a chance to watch the kids open all their gifts. To his surprise, he received a flat-out “no”. Since NewPath (formerly St. Joseph Orphanage), works with children and families affected by extreme forms of abuse and neglect, many of the clients served experience behavioral difficulties and require specialized care. An event of this size could be overwhelming. Not wanting to ignore the call to make a difference, Jeff said, “I’m not quitting on this.”
After asking, again and again, St. Joseph Orphanage (NewPath) worked with the Rosa Family to give the party a chance. Even with the knowledge that the children in attendance are often nervous around people outside of the organization, Jeff remained positive and hoped for the best. His first event went off without a hitch! Consisting of 15 kids and staff, it was clear to Jeff that the children had fun because they saw other people cared.
The Most Memorable Year
Helping a Child in Trauma
Since this tradition began, Jeff and his family continue to be inspired and filled with joy by the reactions of the youth they help each year. For Jeff, one year stands out above all the rest.
Around the third or fourth year of the Christmas parties, St. Joseph Orphanage (NewPath) had a last-minute referral the day of the event. Not wanting even one child to feel left out, Jeff ran from store to store looking for the gifts on the wish list. These items included the typical choices of a preteen boy like an MP3 player, sneakers, etc. The one item that stuck out was a “wool sweat jacket hoodie.” Jeff had never heard of something like this and assumed the boy must be mistaken and meant to write a flannel or fleece hoodie.
Heading to a shoe store for sneakers, he passed a rack and noticed a misplaced item that didn’t belong there. He wasn’t sure why it caught his attention until he realized it was a wool hoodie! Slowly approaching the rack, he repeatedly prayed, “please let it be an XL.” Sure enough, this wool jacket was the size he needed. Shocked at his luck, he sent up a quick prayer of thanks and finished his shopping trip just in time for the party.
The Greatest Gift of All
Later, as the children began excitedly entering the party, Jeff noticed the new boy angrily enter the room. He was in a bad mood and did not want to be there. Jeff couldn’t even imagine the trauma this boy must have experienced that even receiving a bag of gifts wouldn’t cheer him up. Gift after gift, he opened and threw the boxes aside until he came to the wool hoodie. Suddenly, the brightest smile came across his face. He sprang up out of his chair, excitedly put it on, and ran around modeling the new jacket to everyone in the room. Jeff, remembering the positive change that occurred that day, said, “He [the young boy] put something so random and off the wall on his list, and someone took the time to find it for him.”
A Magical Time of Year
Each year businesses and individuals participate in the NewPath Christmas Wish Program, and stories just like this unfold each year. It really is a magical time of year, children get to experience a holiday season filled with love from their communities, and for some it is the first time they have experienced a traditional Christmas holiday. On the surface, donating gifts may seem simple, but what these children truly receive each year is the comfort that someone cares.
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