Yes, Virginia Grants Bring Christmas Magic to Pasadena Families

Yes, Virginia grants helped staff members at 11 local agencies create memorable holiday experiences for clientele.

For families in need in the Pasadena area, the magic of Christmas endured even in this difficult year, thanks to Yes, Virginia grants from Pasadena Community Foundation (PCF). The grants supported 11 local nonprofit organizations in their efforts to provide gifts, material support, festive experiences, and human connection during the holiday season.

In 1994, the Yes, Virginia story inspired PCF supporters to create the Yes, Virginia Fund. It was fully endowed in 2019 as the $500k endowment goal was met, thanks to years of committed fundraising by supporters. PCF is grateful that financing is now in place for decades to come and that no active fundraising needed to take place during this difficult year.

Smiles, laughter, generosity, gratitude, and adaptability were all on display at the 11 sites this year, as staff members created new plans to help client families celebrate the season. They recognize that the end of 2020 is filled with even more uncertainty and hardship than ever, as families juggle rent demands, jobs in the disproportionally impacted service sector, and food insecurity. The Yes, Virginia grants helped staff creatively re-imagine their festivities while also ensuring that families got critical assistance to help make ends meet.

Door of Hope Hosts a Drive-through Christmas Carnival  

Door of Hope staff members preparing a festive Christmas Carnival booth.

At Door of Hope, thanks to the Yes, Virginia grant and additional community support, staff was able to adapt the holiday festivities to include a drive-through Christmas Carnival complete with game booths and a selfie station. Executive Director Megan Katerjian reports that this year, the agency added an important level of direct assistance to families, providing $200 grocery cards to each of the 101 families that attended, plus $50 Target cards for each child – all 225 of them. “There were gasps of surprise and relief from parents and squeals from the kids. For our staff, to be able to help struggling parents who are yearning to make holidays special for their kids is priceless.”

A Heartwarming Cheering Section at Elizabeth House

Elizabeth House Executive Director Debbie Unruh led the “cheering section” for client families.

At Elizabeth House, Santa arrived in a Cadillac convertible and supervised the delivery of festive bags to 50 families arriving by car. The bags were filled with toys and books and were funded in part by the Yes, Virginia grant. Alumni and current clients also received $100 grocery cards, while each child received a $25 Target card. For Executive Director Debora Unruh, the day meant finally seeing families in person, even from a distance, and she treasured that brief reunion: “When they drove up and we could see them up close and see the kids – oh, there were lots of tears on both sides of the car windows! I told my staff and volunteers ‘I want us to be the cheering section – waving, clapping, shouting – because these are courageous people who have been through a lot this year. We can’t hug them, but we can show them our love with our voices and spirit.”

A young client receives gifts from Elizabeth House staff.

PCF is grateful for the Pasadena community’s long-time support of this invaluable, heartwarming grant program. Donations are still welcome and will help the Yes, Virginia Endowment grow and provide holiday magic for years to come.

2020 Yes, Virginia Grantees
• Boys & Girls Club of Pasadena
• Community Health Alliance of Pasadena
• Door of Hope
• Elizabeth House
• Families Forward Learning Center
• Flintridge Center
• Impact House
• Pasadena Altadena Community Endowment Fund (PACEF) – The LINKS
• Pasadena Altadena Coalition of Transformative Leaders (PACTL)
• Professional Child Development Associates
• Treasure Little Children Foundation