For most children – in this country at least – Christmas is a time of magic and wonder. Kids start writing their letters to Santa, eyes bright as they imagine all the brightly-wrapped presents that will be waiting for them under the tree.
With houses and shopping malls and even street lights decorated for the holidays, it’s easy to forget there are some kids whose Christmases won’t be so cheery and bright.
When Rayn Boncie was 14 years old, she was placed in the foster care system. A few months after she arrived at her home, another teen girl came to live at the same house. When Rayn saw her condition, she was stunned.
“She was also 14 and came in wearing clothing that would have fit a small nine-year-old,” Rayn recalled. “I remember seeing her change for bed and noticed reddish-purplish welts on her skin. Her clothing had literally injured her.
“I made a silent promise to her that day, that when I grew up, I would do something to help children like her and me.”
Rayn kept that promise. She started Things of My Very Own, Inc., an organization based in Schenectady, New York, that helps children transition out of bad or abusive situations. Their goal is to “bridge the gap between what social service entities were able to provide and what children need.”
This year, they decided to create tags that list the specific wishes of children in the area. You would expect the tags to list the year’s hottest toys or even some cool new clothes, but the things these kids wished for instead will break your heart.
“None of them list the years hottest toy,” Rayn said, “instead, they list children’s innermost hopes and dreams: ‘a Dad’, ‘new clothes so I won’t get picked on’ or something as simple as ‘a comb.'”
There was one wish especially that broke Rayn’s heart and brought her to her knees:
“Perhaps most heart wrenching was the teen boy who asked for feminine hygiene products for his younger sister so she wouldn’t have to keep missing school.”
“Every tag is connected to a child who wants to believe that someone in the world cares about their well-being,” Rayn said. “If we can show them for one moment that someone put their needs ahead of their own, maybe they will finally believe that what they have endured does not need to define who they grow up to be.
“For many of these children, we are the spark of hope that lights up their otherwise dark world. Many individuals and businesses have already stepped up asking for tags, and for these children, we hope it is only the beginning.”
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You can also donate to help them continue their mission here.