Just mention Christmas and most children smile with thoughts of festive celebrations, brightly decorated Christmas trees and exchanging gifts. That is not the case for many Boys Town youth. They often come to Boys Town from inner-city neighborhoods and family situations involving poverty, crime, neglect, and emotional and physical abuse. Christmas to them is just another day, and often a sad one. That all changes when they experience their first real holiday season in a safe and loving Boys Town Family Home.
Holiday traditions started with Father Flanagan
Making Christmas extra special for the kids all started with Boys Town founder, Father Edward Flanagan, who opened the doors to his first home for boys just two weeks before Christmas in 1917. Recognizing that many of the boys had never had a true Christmas, he made sure that they decorated a tree, sang Christmas carols and each received a gift. Now, more than 100 years later, that holiday tradition continues.
“Christmas is truly a special time of year at Boys Town,” said Barb Vollmer, Executive Vice President of Youth Care at Boys Town. “For the youth who live in the Family Homes on campus, the holiday season is about family. We want our kids to experience the joy of the season and be a part of family traditions. So many memories are made that will last forever.”
The Boys Town holiday season officially begins each year with the annual Christmas tree lighting in the center of the Village. Much to everyone’s delight, Santa arrives for the celebration atop a fire truck with lights blazing and horns blaring. The excitement is pure, unrestrained joy.
Family-Teachers go all out for the holidays
The Family-Teachers at Boys Town go above and beyond to ensure that every Christmas is spectacular and not soon to be forgotten. Houses are decorated with twinkling lights and yard ornaments and indoors a bright shiny star adorns the top of each lovingly decorated Christmas tree. Hot cocoa is enjoyed during the singing of Christmas carols and the warmth of the season fills every heart.
From holiday concerts and productions like the Gift of the Magi to delicious traditional Christmas dinners, singing carols and frosting sugar cookies, everyone celebrates the magic of Christmas surrounded by the joy of family.
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The goal of the holiday season at Boys Town is to give the youth a chance to be kids and experience and build lasting holiday traditions of love, joy and family that they can one day pass on to their own children. Years from now, long after they’ve graduated, these children will pass on their own holiday traditions, many of which will have their roots in their first Boys Town Christmas.
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