[media-credit id=18 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]“They are the forgotten ones.”
That’s how York Police Lt. Dale Edwards, describes the six children at the York Place who received Christmas gifts of their own Wednesday night. The six, all undergoing various treatment and therapy, live and attend school at the 120-acre residential treatment center off Kings Mountain Street in York.
The facility, built to hold up to 36 patients, is a psychiatric treatment and rehabilitation center serving infants, teens and children from a variety of family backgrounds and circumstances.
Some children – the lucky ones – have homes to go to on Christmas Day, while for others, December 25 will be like any other.
Wednesday night, a fire truck escorted Santa Claus – York Mayor Eddie Lee – in the bucket of a ladder truck. After a Christmas dinner, kids at the facility met Santa outside, eager to receive their Christmas gifts.
This is the second year in a row organizers at York Place have organized a Christmas program for the children. In 2012, staff and volunteers donated their time bagging groceries – putting the proceeds from donated tips towards the gift fund.
This year, organizer Melanie Thomas appealed to her fellow county employees soliciting donations for the children. Strangers agreed to ‘adopt’ a child, crossing off items on their lists. Gifts not fulfilled through outside donations were purchased with cash raised throughout the year.
“You can put a smile on a child’s face to let them know that someone does care about them and someone does love them,” Thomas said, fighting back tears. “I don’t want them to think that they’re forgotten — because they’re not.”
Edwards, a 15-year veteran of the police department, said the children at York Place had no idea their wishes were to be fulfilled heading into Wednesday night. But as volunteers were cleaning up the wrapping paper-turned-trash, he said there’s a greater meaning behind his fellow officers pitching in to help.
“For many of these kids — the police are the boogie man,” Edwards said. “We’re not here to be the boogie man, we’re here to help. We’re here to bring a smile.”
In another part of the York Place complex, another half-dozen toddlers and younger children received Christmas gifts of their own from generous members of the community. Some might head to their homes and see family on Christmas Day, while others will remain under the care of the center’s staff.
“To see them happy — that’s all that matters,” Thomas said.
If you would like to help out with a financial contribution to York Place, call (803) 684-4011.