Santa Claus is Alive and Well and Living in Houston Texas

I’m not much into sports these days, or following the spoiled rich athletes that make gazillions of dollars for playing a game for a living. Yes, I realize that it took a lot of work and talent to get to where they are, but then they are paid outrageous salaries and glorified, even if their behavior away from the sport is suspect. No, I will not mention Ray Rice’s name.

Recently though, a story in our local news so touched me that I had to blog about it. A Houston Texans football player, Andre Johnson, gave a bunch of kids that ultimate fantasy for Christmas: a minute and a half shopping spree through Toys R Us.

The kids he chose are all served by Harris County’s Children’s Protective Services (CPS) and are either awaiting foster care or in a placement.

Many years ago when volunteering was my main profession, with a little bit of writing on the side, I came to know the BEAR resource room – then in it’s infancy, but now a staple of CPS services. BEAR stood for Be a Resource to kids in need. The room collected brand NEW toys, new clothing, and care items such as shampoo, diapers, etc, and then children freshly removed from their homes could come and pick out whatever they needed or wanted. Each child got a brand new stuffed Bear to love as well, and that was the part of the program I was in charge of getting collections for. It was important for them to have a “lovie” – something they could hug and hold.

It was in this resource room where I truly understood how frightened, traumatized, and displaced these children are who are first removed from their home environment. My heart just completely broke for each and every one of those children. I fervently wished for them all a safe foster placement and a better life going forward.

I was told a story by a caseworker in the BEAR room: A child came in with no underwear on, no socks, hair matted, and quite distressed. This child came upon the toothbrushes, and stopped, telling the caseworker that she had never before had a toothbrush. The caseworker handed her the prettiest toothbrush they had, and then told her to go pick out some toys. The girl shyly replied that she would rather have a second toothbrush instead.

Doesn’t that just break your heart and cause instant tears? That’s just ONE story. One story of the far too, too many of neglected and abused children in our society, not just in Houston, but everywhere.

And so the mere fact that this very generous athlete chose children served by CPS for their fantasy shopping spree through Toys R Us makes my heart fill with gladness that they were able to experience such joy in their lives. Most of us will never truly know what each of these children faces on a daily basis, but this is a happy memory they will have for life.

Kudos Andre Johnson. I may have to rethink my stereotype of the typical athlete, even though I know J.J. Watt is a cut above too. Yes, Santa Claus is alive and well and is living in Houston, Texas.


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