Annual Christmas celebration helps struggling youth and families make merry

BCFS Health and Human Services hosts annual Christmas gathering

Photo: An excited young adult with a present

ABILENE – For youth from foster care and young adults struggling with homelessness, poverty or family conflict, Christmas can be an unwelcome reminder that they don’t have a traditional family support system. For parents struggling to make ends meet, piling gifts under the tree and providing a full Christmas dinner can be a challenge.

Every year, BCFS Health and Human Services hosts a Christmas celebration for Abilene teens, youth and families in BCFS programs that provide life skills, parenting education, and temporary shelter. On Wednesday, December 9, about 40 teens, youth and parents from around Abilene gathered to exchange gifts, play games and fellowship at the BCFS Health and Human Services center. Guests and BCFS’ community partners made gingerbread houses, played games to compete for prizes, and lucky door prize winners took home gift cards and electronics.

“Each of the folks in our programs received a gift package donated by our generous partners at Wylie Christian Church,” said Martin Pittman, program lead for the BCFS Abilene center. “Each package included journals and notepads, gloves, pens and pencils, a Christmas ornament, snacks, hygiene products, plus jewelry or scented soap for the gals, and a flashlight or portable radio for the guys.”

BCFS Health and Human Services in Abilene is a safe-haven for youth, including those in foster care, those aging out of the system, youth in the juvenile justice system, and any young adult struggling to transition to adulthood and independence. The center provides case management, counseling, mentorships, assistance with education, employment and housing location. BCFS’ Our House is a transitional living home for young men ages 18 to 23 struggling with homelessness. Residents of BCFS’ Our House receive help from the transition center to find employment, save money, and make a plan to become self-sufficient.

For more information about BCFS Health and Human Services, visit or call (325) 692-0033.

BCFS is a global system of health and human service non-profit organizations with locations and programs throughout the United States as well as Eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa. The organization is a national leader in medical sheltering and emergency management and response, providing critical emergency support services to federal, state and local governments. BCFS also provides residential services and emergency shelters for children who are abused or neglected; assisted living services and vocational training for adults with intellectual disabilities; mental health services for children and families, foster care and adoption services; medical services; early education; transitional living services for youth who are at-risk and those in the juvenile justice system; residential camping and retreats for children and families; and international humanitarian aid for children living in impoverished conditions in developing countries.