By Erin Porteous, CEO

It’s the month of December and undoubtedly one of the busiest times of the year for many of us. There are office parties, family gatherings and festivities with friends. Our weekdays and weekends are filled with twinkling lights, tinsel and indulging in the extra splurge of calories – because let’s admit it, the month of December becomes a write-off as we already start to think about our new year’s resolutions. (Better eating habits are usually near the top of my list.) Not to mention dealing with the unpredictability of the planes, trains and automobiles required to get us over the river and through the woods.

By Erin Porteous, CEO

It’s the month of December and undoubtedly one of the busiest times of the year for many of us. There are office parties, family gatherings and festivities with friends. Our weekdays and weekends are filled with twinkling lights, tinsel and indulging in the extra splurge of calories – because let’s admit it, the month of December becomes a write-off as we already start to think about our new year’s resolutions. (Better eating habits are usually near the top of my list.) Not to mention dealing with the unpredictability of the planes, trains and automobiles required to get us over the river and through the woods.

Like most holiday seasons, my over-committed, double-booked and already tired mindset kicked in before the turkey leftovers were even polished off. And it was magnified this year as there are only 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas Eve. But to be honest, I’ve been faced with a deeper truth: my holiday busyness and the schedule in tow is self-createdmuch like many of our activities are in the month of December.

Although the frenetic pace of this time of year can feel overwhelming at times, I know that I am also lucky to be able to experience the joyful celebrations that the season brings. For so many families across Colorado, including many of our Club families, the holidays mean joy, yes – but also added financial strain and stress. The luxury of gift-giving (or party-hopping) is not one that is afforded to all.  

As I write this, I’m about to head out the door to our annual Toy Drive, where we collect presents for each of our 10,000 Club kids. It’s generosity in action, and for me, it distills the actual spirit of the holidays down to just one moment, just one gift, and just one child. And even with that, I know that it’s not about the gift. Rather, it is the old saying of “It’s the thought that counts.” It’s the coming together of our community – seniors at nursing homes, realtors from all over the city, and even pre-teens who have saved up their babysitting money – all of whom demonstrate their belief in the spirit of the season. Our community ensures that every child at the Club knows, through the tangible token of a gift, that they are thought about and cared for this holiday season. Because a gift is more than a gift. It shows our Club kids that despite any challenges they face in their young lives, that they are special. They deserve kindness, care and magic. They deserve to play, dream and imagine. 

At our Club holiday parties there are countless examples of generosity, with a reciprocated response of gratitude from our children. At one particular Club party, we had 200 Club members attend, and each child was individually called up and invited to select a toy. The boxes were wrapped in all shapes and sizes, and as each child walked up, they touched the boxes, shook them, and picked out the one that they thought had the best toy. One young boy cautiously walked up, chose a gift, and quietly brought it back to his seat. When asked if he was going to open it, he shook his head no. Unlike most of the other kids, who could hardly wait to sit back down before digging their fingernails under the gift wrap, he just patiently sat. When asked again why he wasn’t going to open his gift, he replied in a gentle but practical manner, “I want to have something to open on Christmas morning.” For some children, including many who go to the Clubs, the joy and cheer of the entire holiday season is represented in these single moments, not numerous and overlapping scheduling demands. 

And those moments are what the holidays are actually about for us, at Boys & Girls Clubs. We serve 10,000 kids, but the individual moments of caring that happen, all day every day, are exponentially higher than that. Every donated gift that is opened, every meal that is served, every family night around the long tables in the gym – we hope to create spaces that allow our Club kids and families to slow down and experience true connection, community and care. A shelter from the storm and a respite from the rush.   

So as we go into the winter holidays, I wish the same for you and your loved ones. Whether your schedule is packed with parties, or you get to sit next to one child opening one special gift, I invite you to pause, reflect, and feel the joy and magic of the season.