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ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM)– Megan Waguespack will spend her Christmas at the Arlington Life Shelter.
“We’re just setting them under the tree,” she told coworkers as she carried an armload of toys to a Christmas tree in the shelter.
Megan and her coworkers will be Santa for the families who call the shelter home until they can get back on their feet.
“The people I see this time of year are truly in need,” Waguespack said. “They need the help. They need the support and someone to give them a hand.”
The accommodations are humble. There are several rooms with bunk beds parked against the walls. There is a cafeteria, a small lounge area and a play room for the children. But Waguespack and her coworkers try to fill the shelter with hope and love.
“They don’t have to feel like they’re coming to a shelter when they get out of school in the afternoons,” Waguespack explained. “They feel like they’re coming home. So, when we can provide them Christmas and a sense of normalcy in their lives it’s huge.”
Wreaths are hung throughout the shelter. There are cheerful Christmas displays on tables and shelves.
On Christmas Eve, the families will return to the shelter to find small presents on their beds. And in the morning, the children will awake to find Santa has visited their playroom and left plenty of toys. There are rewards for playing Santa.
“Seeing the kids faces for sure,” Waguespack said smiling. “And seeing the relief on the parent’s face whent they get to pick out something for their child for christmas is huge.”
But people like Waguespack give the gift of hope every day, making them Santas year ’round.
“I would like to hope we are!” Waguespack laughed. “We do what we can. And there are days that its difficult. But, for the most part it is so rewarding.
“It’s people who come in here saying i didn’t know where i was going to get my next meal. I didn’t know if my kids were going to have to sleep on the streets. I didn’t know if we were going to have to sleep in the car. Things i’ve never had to face. But, to see people with that much resilience that can come in and do something and build themselves back up.”
And that gives families the gift of peace.
“To know any day of the year, any time we get a child that comes in here and they are scared and they don’t know what to expect and we can give them a sense of safety and a sense of home it is worth it,” Waguespack said.
(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)
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