DETROIT (WJBK) - Detroiters are famous for their generosity and this is a time of year when many dig deep to help the less fortunate. For a Detroit church, their annual children's Christmas party is need of a little extra generosity this season.
The Most Holy Trinity has hosted an annual Christmas party for 55 years to gather gifts for kids who would otherwise go without a Christmas present. The first party was held for 15 kids at the Detroit Press Club. The Press Club is long gone and the party has grown tremendously since then. But the need never changes.
Like 500 other kids, Makayla, Isabella, and Chase have all been guests at Most Holy Trinity's annual Christmas party.
"We get to hang out with our friends, and it's like a second Christmas, and everyone loves second Christmases. We get to sit with Santa or Mrs. Claus and they give us a big bag of presents and we get to drink pop and I believe we have pizza and they give us this little box of chicken nuggets," Makayla said.
She and her classmates are among the lucky ones who exchange gifts with friends and family. But for many others at the party, the only gifts they'll get this year come in the bright colored bags packed by 150 volunteers at the church.
For more years than she'd like to admit, Raquel Reardon has been one of the volunteers stuffing yellow, pink, blue and green bags with toys and clothing for needy children.
"There's a lot of people in need," Reardon said. "It touches my heart to help and be able to do as much as I can do for those who can't. Nobody realizes how many people are out there that are really in need that can really use it. so we continue to keep trying and we'll do it as long as we can. But that's running short because, you know, everybody has trouble."
The tradition was started by the legendary Father Clement Kern and it continues under Monsignor Chuck Kosanke.
"We have parents who stand in line to participate knowing that this is the only way that their child is going to experience a joyful Christmas," Monsignor Kosanke said. "The finances are stretched, you know, between paying all the regular bills and there's usually not money leftover for the extras. And the extra sometimes is Christmas."
This year's party is already set with parishoners from Most Holy Trinity and residents of Corktown and southwest Detroit who could use a little help at the holidays lined up for tickets shortly after Thanksgiving. It's a bit more humble - and a lot more noble - gathering than the lines of conspicuous consumers lining up for bargains at big box stores and malls.
"This party is really about helping children to see, you know, a brighter day, where the rest of the day it can be pretty dim, pretty struggling. But here, during this season, when everybody is waiting in line to get the best deals, they're waiting in line just to get something," Monsignor Kosanke said.
The secret of the party's success is that the planning goes on all year. Volunteers work with helpful managers at local stores and look for Christmas bargains when the summer heat is still on.
For months before the party starts, Reardon and other volunteers stock up on socks, underwear, gloves, mittens, fire trucks and board games. They front the money, hoping that Detroiters will open hearts and wallets to cover the bills they've been running up all year.
"There is a lot of people out there, there is a lot of children that really don't have Christmas. We try to do the best we can, but we can't cover everybody. Our funds, like I said, are going down, too. So we hate to cut back on what they get," Reardon said.
But it's not about the latest toys or games or clothes. It's simple things like blankets that are needed - a need that was fulfilled during the course of this story. Is that a miracle? Probably not, but it is a tribute to the resourcefulness of the volunteers and the generosity of the community.
It's also a vivid reminder that it's not too late to help out.
You can help out by going to the church's website https://mostholytrinityministries.org/