Few things in the world are as moving as the smile of a child. Everyone loves to see their expressive faces light up from surprise and joy. Unfortunately not every child can share the simple happiness of  childhood experiences like  celebrating the holidays.

The United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of the Child states every child has the right to play, to have fun and to live a safe and healthy childhood, but some of them are bound to live a different reality. CHI decided to “Share the Joy of Christmas” with a special group of children.

CHI determined to help the children of homeless families. These children don’t ask anything but love and protection from their parents. Christmas gifts and the joy of the season are usually foregone in favor of food and shelter. However, these children  have an equal right to enjoy the magic of Christmas, including a visit from  Santa bearing presents to reward how good they have been throughout the year.

This dream became reality thanks to the generous support of CHI’s collaborators in Westchester County. During the whole month of December, CHI conducted a toy drive with the help of the Mahopac Fire Department, Toys for Tots and a former marine, Lou Calderon.

More than 200 new toys were donated through the Scarsdale Police Department and the Scarsdale Library which were set as pick up centers. These toys were destined to cheer up the lives of the homeless children that are part of CHI’s Emergency Housing Apartment Program (EHAP).

“This is the largest toy donation we have received in the whole history of this holiday initiative,” –said Rochelle Rose, EHAP Case Manager at CHI. Fortunately, as CHI has been growing and adding more emergency housing units during the past three years, our network of collaborators has grown as well.

“There are 60 families and about 85 children living in our Westchester EHAP,” explained Debbie Perkins, CHI’s Senior Director of Hudson Valley Programs. These toys definitely made Christmas a dream come true for kids and parents who otherwise couldn’t afford to celebrate Christmas this way.

Community Housing Innovations is the second largest provider of emergency housing in Westchester. CHI operates a wide variety of homeless housing models, from family centers with more than 100 rooms to scattered-site individual apartments. Though each emergency housing model varies according to local needs and available housing resources, they all provide 24/7 supervision, case management and linkage to community resources in order to move families and individuals to transitional or permanent housing as quickly as possible.