Clients of Family Advocates do holiday shopping for free during Operation Santa

Posted at 6:17 PM, Dec 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-09 20:19:16-05

From toys to clothes, more than 70 Treasure Valley kids went on a shopping spree at Easter Seals-Goodwill. The children shopped while escorted by a 1st responder as their parents did some holiday shopping of their own. 

It's called "Operation Santa" and this is the first year it's taken place in the Treasure Valley. The children were spending up to $50 dollars on gifts for themselves and their families. All of the families are clients of Family Advocates, a non-profit who works to strengthen families and keep kids safe by empowering everyday people. The non-profit partnered with Goodwill who opened their doors early to let the families shop till they drop.

"They're finding everything they need for them and mostly their families," explained Goodwill manager, Tyler Costa. " I've seen a lot of kids out there that are shopping for dad or mom."

Each family is also getting in-kind donations that were made possible by individuals and businesses here in the Treasure Valley. 

"Blankets, books pajamas coats, toys and everything in between. Everything a family needs to feel healthy safe and secure and to have a bright holiday season," said Jamie Hansen of Family Advocates.  

For many of these families, the holidays can put a strain on their budgets. One mother says getting a helping hand with the shopping makes the holidays more manageable. 

An army of volunteers also helped the families wrap their presents and get their picture taken with Santa. Family Advocates say without their volunteers, none of this and much of the work they do wouldn't be possible. Organizers hope to make "Operation Santa" an annual event.