Gannon Abreu, 13, and his father Danny Abreu pick a paper ornament off of the Tillie’s Touch Christmas Wish Tree on Dec. 1. The Abreus, who live in East Syracuse, are “adopting” a local child for Christmas this year.
East Syracuse When Dale Johnson was a kid growing up in East Syracuse, he remembers Christmas time was a lot different from what he saw on TV and in the movies.
“Christmases were difficult times in my house,” said Johnson, the president of Tillie’s Touch, a not-for-profit which is hosting its second official Adopt-A-Child for Christmas event this year. “I used to watch my mom struggle, my dad was very stingy when it came to giving her money for anything. When it came to Christmas, it was very tough around the house – a lot of fighting and arguing. So I wanted to do something for a child who may be going through the same hardships.”
And thus the Adopt-A-Child event was created. Tillie’s Touch is giving around 25 families, most of which live in the East Syracuse Minoa area, an extra boost to ensure that each child can have a special Christmas this year. On Dec. 1, the organization held a “Christmas Wish” event at Trapper’s in DeWitt so that area residents could choose a child to “adopt” for Christmas.
The tree was decorated with paper ornaments, each inscribed with a child’s name and the toy he or she wants for Christmas or an item of clothing that the child needs. Johnson said that each child has at least two ornaments hanging on the tree – one for a toy, and one for clothing.
“For most of the families, this is it for Christmas,” Johnson said. “We are Christmas for them, so we’re trying to give every kid multiple gifts if we can.”
This year, Tillie’s Touch has partnered with Toys for Tots, and will receive some extra toys to give to its families through the organization.
“It’s a perfect situation, because the Toys for Tots toys will not only fill the gaps, in case a child doesn’t get picked, but they’ll also go out to those families who really need assistance this year so that we can create a nice Christmas for them.”