Christmas for All - Year
Everyone has capacity to contribute—and honoring capacity is a beautiful thing.
Press Christmas For All, is in its 37th year, and for many of those years, it looked like most Christmas charitable programs: well-intended yet shortsighted charity to anyone who asked, all in the name of Christmas spirit.
Each year, people would stand in line to receive a small gift card, purchased with generous donations from community members.
But those significant financial resources meant to help only reinforced helplessness and dependency. Outcomes did not come close to justifying the amount of time, energy, and financial resources that went into maintaining this program every year.
So, Charity Reimagined and the Coeur d’Alene Press started to ask that dangerous question: How could this well-intentioned outpouring of generosity really start to make an impact in people's lives?
Thanks to a courageous first step by the Coeur d’Alene Press, the team behind the Christmas program decided it was time for a major facelift.
Christmas for All underwent key shifts in its program design in 2019. Perhaps the most significant change was the focus. Rather than giving gifts to folks who could prove themselves the most destitute, the Christmas for All team decided to honor those who had taken courageous, hard-fought steps to improve their lives. And honoring big steps made in the right direction calls for a big award—no more $35 gift cards as a prize for waiting in line.
Necessarily, that meant that Christmas for All couldn’t serve hordes of people anymore. Instead, they wanted to make a big impact for the smaller group of people taking real steps to improve their own situation. But how could they narrow it down to those folks?
Christmas for All decided to partner with relationship-building organizations (Referring Partners) that are making an impact. Applicants are vetted by highly relational programs aimed at building self-sufficiency for those who are working hard on overcoming major hurdles in their path out of poverty.
CFA applications include typical administrative information, but the applicant is also asked to share their story, their biggest challenge, their biggest achievement in the past year, and an item or items that would help them improve their situation. The Referring Partner is asked to elaborate on why they believe this person is an ideal candidate for an award.
It’s a vetting process that frees Christmas for All to gift items or services, like car repairs, new tires, dentures, large household appliances, eye exams and glasses, and household items. Quality is of the utmost importance.
The benefit of gifts like these is two-fold. For one, these are gifts that offer a direct boost to the person’s path out of poverty. For example, one woman who was disabled and homeless with her children had been able to secure low-income housing for herself and her family by earning extra money delivering newspapers. With winter approaching, she was going to have to quit the paper route because of the bald tires on her van. Without this supplemental income, she and her children were going to lose their housing. Christmas for All took that as a prime opportunity to honor her grit and dedication through an award of brand-new tires.
Gifts like these offer some real advantages, including eager responses from business partners and financial donations that stretch farther.
The Christmas for All team is working with the business community. They are not asking for outright donations. Instead, they are asking businesses to provide their resources, talents, and services at cost. Paying for products and services at cost is a win-win: CFA can make each donated dollar stretch further, and business partners are eager to contribute to the cause knowing they’re not losing money on each service.
Christmas for All honors reciprocity at every opportunity. Applicants are asked to pitch in a little bit toward their award to remind them of their capacity and resourcefulness. The “co-pay” is small and calculated on a sliding scale of income, but ensures the applicant is actively participating in their award.
With encouragement from a supportive community, Christmas for All recipients are finding the strength within to continue their journey to a flourishing life. The woman who worked the paper route and had her tires replaced through Christmas for all demonstrates this. Shortly after, she returned to her Referring Partner and proudly informed them that she didn’t need them anymore. She was self-sufficient, no longer depending on the charity in her community.
Christmas for All is still a holiday program, but for recipients, it’s now Christmas for All Year, and that’s a beautiful thing.
Press Christmas for All is a 501(c)3 managed by volunteers at The Hagadone Corp., the Coeur d'Alene Press and Charity Reimagined, every penny raised goes to Kootenai County residents in need. All overhead costs are borne by the company.