Gift card drive aims to give Greater New Haven teens a ‘Christmas to Remember’
The Rev. Brenda Adkins remembers how bad she felt on Christmas morning not getting any gifts as a teenager because she was the oldest of 10 children in poverty and her mother explained she had to spend the limited money on gifts for the youngest siblings.
Today, as an adult, Adkins understands that intellectually, but the painful memories through a teenager’s eyes remain.
So Adkins is going into action to help teens this Christmas.
She and her husband, John, through their church, His Divine Will Fellowship in Hamden, are collecting gift cards to be given out to families with teenagers.
They are looking for cards with a minimum amount of $10, they said.
“No child should wake up Christmas morning and not have a gift under the tree,” Adkins said.
“A Christmas to Remember” will provide gift cards to 300 identified families in need who have teens — along with hams for the dinner table.
“I remember what it was like waking up and being in my room. It seemed like they (the younger kids) were more important than I was,” Adkins said. “It made me feel like I was undeserving.”
Adkins said there are many programs to distribute gifts to younger children, but teens often are left in the dust.
The need for gift cards to serve teens has long been identified in the community by those doing Christmas gift drives. Adkins and other drive organizers say teenagers are tricky because they like to pick out their own items even if they are small.
Adkins said giving them a gift card also allows a teen some control over their lives, which they like at that age.
Adkins recently said there is an escalated need because of layoffs, and state cuts to programs that help the community.
The couple recently held a “Day of Joy” Thanksgiving dinner and coat giveaway, with help from the Knights of Columbus, and wound up serving more than 800 people when they only expected 600.
She said her church has reached out for corporate donations of gift cards, following the application procedures, but there’s not nearly enough out there to reach their goals.
Anyone who wants to give a gift card can send them — or a cash donation to buy some — to 330 Munson St., New Haven, CT 06511. If anyone has questions or wants to make another arrangement, Adkins can be reached at 203-802-0747. The deadline for donations is Dec. 18.