For a lot of families, it may seem unheard of to shop for every single Christmas present at just one place, but at the New Moms Christmas parties, that’s not the case. Non-profit New Moms provides support for mothers in need, ages 16 to 24, and their children in Oak Park and Chicago’s Austin area.
At all three parties this year, young mothers chose their children’s Christmas presents in a room full of donated books, toys and clothes, while volunteers babysat the kids.
“All of the gifts are supplied by generous donors throughout the city of Chicago and the near suburbs,” said Jenna Hammond, New Moms development and communications director.
Volunteers from Huntington Bank helped the mothers carry their haul to an area away from children’s prying eyes. Each mom gets wrapping paper, tape and gift bags, as well.
Natarah Grisby, one of the young moms, got her six-month-old son new clothes, pajamas, and some bathtub toys. She also picked out a baby walker toy and a tablet that will teach him his ABCs and numbers.
“Oh my gosh, we are going to have a lot of fun with it, little boy,” Grisby told her son.
Those won’t be the only things waiting under the tree Christmas morning for Grisby’s child.
“I also got him some books, because he likes me to read to him before he goes to sleep,” Grisby said.
The selection of available gifts was so vast, Grisby had trouble remembering everything she picked out.
Moms weren’t left out either. Each mother got a bag full of gifts just for them, which Grisby said she is saving to open on Christmas morning.
“We have seen an amazing outpouring of support from individuals and groups in the community,” Hammond said. “It’s been such a great mixture of individuals and families in the community, and corporate groups that have come around to make sure this is a really great success.”
People’s Gas, Google and Oak Park’s Chicago Family Doulas all collected gifts for the joyful cause.
“We hope to do this fundraiser every year,” said Chicago Family Doulas owner Annamarie Rodney.
At each party, children and moms decorated sugar cookies and made Christmas decorations together. A certain Christmas hero also came to all three parties.
“The kids go nuts when Santa walks into the room,” said Hammond.
A professional photographer captured all the special moments, taking family portaits and, of course, pictures of the kids on Santa Claus’ lap.
“It’s one of our favorite parts of the year because it’s just such an exciting time to see all the families come together and get to experience a Christmas party and time with their family” said Jenna Hammond,
“So much of family time is creating these traditions, and this is a tradition that New Moms gets to support families in creating.”
For Grisby, it’s particularly special. It’s her son’s very first Christmas.
“Being able to walk in there and pick out things that I had already wanted for him, and them being there, was a really great feeling,” Grisby said. “It makes you feel so humble and appreciative.”
New Moms, she said, has been a blessing.
“For all the moms out there, I hope they find this program. This program is a big blessing and I appreciate everything they have done for me, honestly and truly,” Grisby said. “I tell them that all the time. It means a lot.”