Coordinating hundreds of Christmas wish lists for children referred to her nonprofit, Impact Nacogdoches founder Julia Jones doesn’t hesitate to name the most requested item.
“Pajamas,” said Jones, referring to the lists provided to her by school counselors and case workers. “They ask for shoes, pajamas — blankets are a big request.”
Impact Nacogdoches began as a way to provide needed supplies to foster families but has since expanded its clientele. Still, back-to-school and Christmas are the busiest times of the year. Children’s holiday wish lists are often fulfilled by generous individuals or families who choose a child and shop for him or her. The lists are provided to Impact through caseworkers, court appointed advocates or school counselors.
“They have to be referred to us,” Jones says. “We fill out a list of what they want and the sizes they wear.”
The cards are then placed on Christmas trees at Cotton Patch Cafe on North Street and at the Impact Nacogdoches resale store, 720 E. Main St.
“You select a card, shop for that child and bring it to us,” she said. “We put them in gift bags.”
In past years, the gifts were distributed during a holiday party, but the event has grown by so many children that this is no longer feasible, Jones said. The 2018 event was bursting at the seems, with 400 people including families, children and volunteers.
“It was a madhouse last year,” she said. “Isn’t that a wonderful problem?”
This year, the distribution will be a come-and-go event for the children at the Impact store from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 21.
This means ideally that wish list drop-offs should be complete by the Dec. 20, but the need is great and seemingly endless, she says. All year long, Impact distributes bags containing toothbrushes, blankets and pajamas to children coming into foster care, in addition to other services.
“If someone calls me on Christmas Eve and tells me they just (removed children from a home) and need a gift bag, we’ll make it work,” Jones said.