On December 19th I took photographs of kiddos and their families with Santa at a Christmas event for the HOPES program. The smiles were contagious to say the least! What is HOPES you might ask?
The HOPES program serves families in McLennan County that have kids ranging in ages from prenatal through Kindergarten. It is a free program where the parent educators come along and support the parents with their child/children. The visits usually consist of a parent child interaction that involves items that they most likely have at their home already, child development, and overall family well being.
Children that participate in the program are better prepared for kindergarten. Once a month HOPES hosts a group connection which allows the families to come together and participate in family activities or where the parents can learn from each other.
The December group connection was focused around Christmas. We were lucky enough to have volunteers to play Santa (Richard Aleman) and take pictures (Smith Family Photography). Kenda stated that she "felt that pictures with Santa were a big deal since the majority of our families do not have the opportunity to get them done." HOPES will be printing the pictures and giving them to the families. Each child was also able to receive a gift through generous donations. HOPES was able to serve 26 families that night (almost 90 kids)!
One huge component of the program is literacy and providing board books to the families, both English and Spanish. Many of the families now read books as a family, which is something that was not done before being a part of the HOPES Program.
The HOPES program is always accepting board book donations in both English and Spanish if you'd like to donate. If you'd like to donate books, please call Kenda at 254-732-0482.