Even though Christmas is less than a week away, some kids in Wichita Falls got to celebrate early.
They aren't your average kid. Some of them have been removed from their homes, while others are orphans and they live at the Children's Home and Teen Shelter.
Christmas might not be as merry for them, but thanks to the Wichita Falls Police Departments Annual Cops, Kids, and Christmas event, that changed. However, not every day is as fun as Friday was. Sometimes they struggle to keep their heads held high. Plus, they never know how the next day will turn out.
We see anywhere from 275 to 400 hundred children per year," Sheila Choate, the Executive Director of the Children's Home and Teen Shelter said.
The holidays can be very difficult for many of the kids, because they just want to be with their family. Unfortunately, some of them don't feel like they have one because of the situation they are in.
"Drugs and alcohol have not gone away," Choate said, "Prescription pill addiction, alcohol addiction of course hard drugs as well. We see a lot of kids for these reasons."
She said they see kids from child protective services, runaway, homeless kids, the safe street outreach program, and juvenile probation children. When the kids come to the shelter, they usually don't have a lot.
"When children come in, they come with the clothes on their back and most of their belongings can fit in a small brown paper bag," Choate said.
So as you can imagine, it's not just the holidays that are tough. It's everyday life. She said the hardest thing for the kids is feeling normal.
"They feel different from other children," she said, "They're not with their family, but sometimes to be honest, that's not always a bad thing."
With the help of the community and the shelter, there is hope.
"We start their whole lives over when they come in with brand new clothing, brand new toys, cause all children need toys, brand new toiletries and that kind of helps them rebuild their lives," Choate said.
Thanks to the event on Friday, they got to experience joy.
Jeff Hughes with the WFPD said, "This events phenomenal every year. We had eight kids this year. Some of these kids, they've never gotten gifts before and you can tell by the look on their faces that today's one of the greatest days of their life."
Hughes said it means a lot to the police department.
"You know these kids are here for reasons beyond their control," he said, "You know some of them come from abusive homes, some of them come from narcotic homes. So, these kids deserve a great Christmas and it means everything to be able to provide it for them."
Even Santa Claus was there. He made a special trip from the North Pole to see the children. All of the kids got to sit on his lap and then he gave each of their bag of gifts. All of them were thankful for their presents. It's a Christmas they will never forget.
Choate has been with the shelter for 21 years and said a lot of the kids turn their lives around. Some of them get to go home to their family, or relatives. Others go into long term care. Some of the older kids even get a job, get in the military, and even go to college.