Letters to Santa answered by the Grays Harbor community

By James Franklin

Distress, desperation, fear, anxiety, heartache -- these are not the emotions that Christmas is supposed to engender. However, when a family is struggling to find the funds to buy even a single present for their children these feelings often occur.

Five years ago Katrina Gomery was in such a position of discomfort. Desiring extra money to buy gifts for her two small children, Gomery decided that she would work through the holidays as a bell ringer. When she went to sign up, she discovered the opportunity to enroll in the Salvation Army's Christmas program. Grateful for the assistance to her family, she has volunteered with the program each and every year since.

The program in Grays Harbor is called Christmas for Kids, and applications are filled out and processed throughout November. Families in need sign up and list each child and what their wish list would be. The community can then "adopt" these families and buy gifts based on these letters to Santa.

"Every year we help roughly 200 families," explained Gomery. "There are seven churches here in Grays Harbor that participate in the event. If you choose to adopt a family, you adopt the whole family, including the parents. It's a rather fun concept, and you get the parents' wish list, too. My friend was adopted this year, and she didn't know what to say; all she wanted were presents for her little girl. One of the participating churches made quilts and those quilts were passed out as well. We also made hats and scarves for the children."

Distribution this year was on Friday, Dec. 16. Many families woke up on Christmas morning with children smiling joyfully because their letters to Santa were answered.