Each year the Board is approached with a lot of questions about what is Blue Christmas, How do you get the families, and how do you get the money to operate. We also have new personnel each year at both the police and fire departments that know nothing about the organization. Therefore, I wanted to give a little history, a little information and let each of you know how you can help.
First off Blue Christmas was started in 1979 out of the then City Municipal Court building at 835 W. Irving Blvd. I started with 25 families and it has now grown to where we attempt to take care of 400+ families that live in Irving. We originally were under the umbrella of the Irving Police Association charitable account, and then we moved to the Irving Fire Fighters Association. When Texas Stadium was blown up Swanson gave the City of Irving a donation to be distributed among programs that helped kids in the city. Blue Christmas was awarded $5000 which was the beginning of becoming a 501 c 3 tax exempt program under our own umbrella.
I chose a Board of Directors from people that were already involved. Officer Gary Brockett, Officer Greg Spivey, Capt. Roger Hogle, Fire Fighter Nick Fanco, and Lisa Wilson were the most involved in the program and were given the slots. At a later time Inv. John Schingle was approached to join the board and did accept the position. We presently have seven board members that make the program happen that are 100% volunteers. Blue Christmas has NO paid employees and we don’t plan on having any.
Each board member adds to the total success of the program with each working toward a common goal to take care of Irving families that might not otherwise have a Christmas.
Each year the Irving School’s Early Development and Elementary counselors are contacted and given packets to choose children that need help at Christmas. The counselors are given a deadline to have the names in to Community Services in November. Once we have the names, each family is checked through the data base that was started by the Salvation Army several years ago. If the family has already applied with another organization they are removed from the Blue Christmas list and advised. Each year we do find “double dipper”, and try to avoid this from happening. We also get names from Police Officer’s and Fire Fighters that come across families that really need help. We quit taking names from people walking up to the Police station and Fire stations due to previous incidents. If someone finds out that they can get on the list by visiting the stations, the next thing you have is large groups showing up to be added. If there is a residential fire where the family loses everything and there are children; we take care of the kids and families with toys and food.
Each year we do two fund raisers to acquire funds to buy toys and food. We have added some other events to assist in getting the food and toys needed each year. The first is a Chili Cook Off that is held in conjunction with the City of Irving’s Christmas Extravaganza each year on the first Saturday of December. For this we do Santa pictures, bounce house, cake walk, vendors, silent auction, tasting cups, concessions, and raffle. We sell booths and get items for the raffle from the vendors. Next we do the Fireman’s Pancake Breakfast at Plymouth Park Baptist Church the second Saturday in December. Again we have Santa arrive on a fire truck, raffle and silent auction. The best part of the pancake breakfast you get pancakes, bacon, sausage and all kinds of drinks for $10.
We recently started doing a food and toy drive at Walmart where the Police Explorers set up shop, give a list of food to people shopping and they bring their donation to the Explorers to fill up a trailer of canned goods. The best part of this is all food not given to the families that is left over is donated to Irving Cares to help them at Christmas time with their families. Last year we were able to donate 2 tons of food. All toys and food stay in IRVING to help Irving families.
We have sponsors that help us throughout the year with cash donations and/or food and toys. Walmart donates bikes to us that need a little TLC. We do a bike repair each year and then give these away to the kids. Irving Bible Church donates food baskets that helps a lot with our food donations. We have donations to help feed the volunteers that help. For many years we worked out of Station #2 and then moved to Station #6. Blue Christmas has outgrown the fire stations and we had to move to the Irving Police Association to conduct the toy drive. We have the room and last year was the first time this was done! Total success in the operation and distribution of the food and toys! View our full list of sponsors
The most important part of Blue Christmas that makes it work is the Irving Fire Department and Irving Police Department employees. You guys coming to help at the Chili Cook Off, Pancake Breakfast, and toy drive and make it happen! Without your help in getting the toys organized, bagged up and delivered it would not happen! We let your family come help and let the kids help with parental supervision.