Santa Claus is coming to town. It’s a refrain near and dear to the heart of every child. Unfortunately, some children and teens may find themselves with a little less magic during the holidays.
Despite the fact that Fairfax has been ranked among the nation’s wealthiest counties for the better part of 30 years, there remain those less fortunate in our community, those who might have to balance paying the power bill against buying presents.
According to the 2010 federal census, 4.9 percent — or a little more than 50,000 Fairfax residents — live below the poverty line. This is demonstrated by the strain put on food banks such as Springfield-based ECHO and Fairfax-based FACETS.
It’s also manifested each year by the growing number of children in Fairfax County who don’t wake up to gift-packed stockings over the fireplace or neatly wrapped presents under a well-decorated tree.
Presents aren’t everything. Regardless of religion (or lack thereof), the holidays are about a warm feeling in the air. It’s designed as a time to acknowledge friends and loved ones and reflect on their importance in your life.
Even so, the holidays are more than that for kids. For some, it’s the belief in magic — like Santa Claus. For others, gifts come as a demonstration that being good has its rewards. For a child who is sick or homeless, getting a holiday present is a sign that everything is right with the world. Everything is going to be OK.
Fortunately, more than a few well-intentioned organizations across our region have stepped up to the plate, allowing children to believe in Santa Claus for a little bit longer through the magic of local giving.
One of those is the Fairfax County Police Department. For the past 25 years, the police department’s motorcycle squad, working collaboratively with the Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia state police, Fairfax city police, Falls Church Sheriff’s Office and the town of Vienna police, has collected and distributed toys for sick children, as well as local charities such as the Ronald McDonald House.
This year, they again are asking each of us to consider dropping off a new, unwrapped toy, game or book at any Fairfax County police station before Monday, Dec. 10. The motorcycle officers’ “Santa’s Ride” collection will take place on Dec. 11; distribution of gifts will take place at Inova Fairfax Hospital on Dec. 12 and Georgetown Hospital on Dec. 13.
In addition to toys, there are many other options to enriching the lives of our neediest children and families.
Donating clothing, food and other items to charitable organizations always is a great option. Several food banks in Fairfax County distribute food to needy families and children across Northern Virginia.
If time is your chief asset, consider joining a mentorship program to help a child develop their talents and strengths.
If time is in short supply, consider giving money to family and children’s charities. Area church groups often need money to help underprivileged families in the congregation.
A little contribution can go a long way.