Holiday wishes coming true.
That’s the goal every winter season at Shelter from the Storm.
But this year, they had a little help from Santa’s elves at Agua Caliente Casino.
“Through the Agua Cares Program, we allow our team members the opportunity to support the community. So this year for this holiday season, we wanted to gift Angel Tree and all their recipients anything that they could possibly need or want for the holiday season,” Director of Media and Community Relations with Agua Caliente Casino, Jessica Newton, shared.
Wednesday morning, a truck-load of festive necessities like toys and other household items arrived at the shelter to help those in need.
“Shelter from the Storm is the only domestic violence shelter in the Coachella Valley that also provides services for women and children and families experiencing intimate partner violence,” Angelina Coe, executive director at Shelter from the Storm, explained. “This gives them an opportunity to have Christmas while in shelter, while in our programs, after leaving their abusive households.”
But these donations mean much more than having the newest bike on the block.
They shine a bright light during a dark time.
“It’s a struggle for the kids,” Shelter from the Storm Board Member Ryann McMillon shared. “They don’t expect anything.”
For McMillon, this hits close to home.
“When I was 12 years old, I had four Christmases myself in the shelter, so I know how they’re feeling right now,” he shared. “I remember this exact time I came to the emergency shelter. I didn’t think I was getting gifts. I didn’t think I was getting anything that Christmas. I remember waking up that morning and there were presents there. For the next three Christmases that I lived out at the shelter, I woke up every Christmas with bikes and basketballs and it was because of people like Agua Caliente who took care of us, people that took us in when we didn’t have anything.”
Over the past 15 years, children like McMillon were able to wake up on Christmas morning feeling that sense of holiday joy and peace.
“It brings so much joy not just to the families and the children but to us staff to see them be loved and cared for by the community,” Coe said.
“I’ve been that kid before,” McMillon continued. “I’m telling you guys right now exactly how they’re going to feel. They’re going to be happy. They’re going to be joyful and it’s going to be something that was unexpected. That’s the greatest gift that you guys gave them, so thank you.”
If you or anyone you know is in need of help, you can call the Shelter from the Storm’s emergency hotline at (760) 328 – SAFE (or 7233).
You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799 – SAFE (or 7233).