Santa visited Rucker Elementary children, along with Mrs. Claus, thanks to the Adopt-an-Angel program. Samantha-Anne Horwitch of Manhattan Resources is one of four chairpersons for Houston’s Adopt-an-Angel Program. Sponsored annually by the Houston Young Lawyer’s Foundation (HYLF) in partnership with Houston Young Lawyer’s Association (HYLA) and local law firms, attorneys, and businesses, Adopt-an-Angel brings holiday magic to Houston-area children through its annual gift-giving program.
Before Santa visited Rucker Elementary, he also attended children at other schools and private charities. With so many families suffering from the impact of Hurricane Harvey, this year’s Adopt-an-Angel program was more important than ever. Local firms and business partners sponsored individual children and families by purchasing holiday gifts and other necessities. As a result, the program brought Christmas to 2,500 children in the Houston area from 10 different schools and charities. Due to the generosity of its patrons, Adopt-an-Angel was able to add another charitable group this year. It sponsored additional schools for general needs, including sporting equipment and uniforms.
Santa Visited Rucker Elementary to Make Christmas a Reality for Children Who Might Not Otherwise Have It
The Adopt-an-Angel chairpersons are Kristen Bates, The Strong Firm, P.C.; Sherry Hill, Law Office of Sherry E. Hill, PLLC; Samantha-Anne Horwitch, Manhattan Resources; and Michael Clinton, Blizzard & Nabers. The program collects wish lists from economically disadvantaged students in Houston and matches each one with a member of the legal community. The person shops for gifts using the wish list and then returns them to the committee during the last week of November. The children receive their packages before Christmas.
“I had the pleasure of attending the Christmas party we hosted when Santa visited Rucker Elementary school children, where we adopted the third, fourth and fifth graders as well as the special needs classrooms,” said Horwitch. “During the delivery, each child is given a bag of gifts from Santa and gets the opportunity to take a photo with him and thank Santa in person! It is a wonderful thing to see the faces of those children light up when they see Santa and receive their gifts.”
The Adopt-An-Angel Committee organizes the program and coordinates the efforts of more than 1,000 volunteers from 60 local law firms and businesses.
“The organizers take special care to ensure that children receive things that they need, like school uniforms, and also things they want that make the holidays extra special,” said Cristina Lunders, Chair of the HYLF Board. “Adopt-An-Angel participants make a positive impact on their communities.”
Adopt-an-Angel Takes Care of Needs and Makes Children Smile
Edward Sanchez, the parent engagement representative of Burnet Elementary, has seen firsthand the impact the Adopt-An-Angel program has on the students: “97% of our students are economically disadvantaged. 70% of these students live in rental properties. It is because of these reasons that families go without gifts. Family income covers only necessities, ” Sanchez explained. “However, with help from HYLA, children can receive gifts for the holidays.”
“My favorite part is seeing the joy, gratitude and sometimes tears on the faces of parents when they pick up their children and gifts,” Sanchez said.
“We still see the benefits of our first delivery event from last year,” Burnet Principal Ana Cantu said. “In the end, it means so much to know many students stay because they know they are loved and cared for here at Burnet.”
Kathy Foster, director and founder of Casa de Esperanza, attests to the benefits of the program. She says they are especially relevant this year because of Hurricane Harvey. “There is nothing like seeing the magic of Christmas through the eyes of these children,” Ms. Foster said. “We are amazed by the Adopt-An-Angel program and the generosity of HYLA’s members who make it happen. When our children open their gifts Christmas morning, they also receive joy, hope and know their community loves them.”
Some of the Special Sponsors and Participants Who Make it Happen
The Adopt-An-Angel program depends on the generosity of the sponsoring law firms, attorneys, and businesses. Over the years, numerous firms have dedicated time, money, and energy to the Adopt-An-Angel program. Consequently, many Houston law firms and legal companies support the program year after year, including Kirkland & Ellis, LP, Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP, Vinson & Elkins, LLP, Gardere Wynne Sewell, LLP, King & Spalding, LLP, Baker Botts LLP, Winstead, and Shell.
The participating HISD schools include Bastian Elementary, Bellfort ECC Headstart, Burnet Elementary, DeChaumes Elementary, Petersen Elementary, and Rucker Elementary.
Casa De Esperanza, Catholic Charities, SEARCH’s House of Tine Treasures, Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services, and Boys and Girls Harbor, Inc. are participating private charities.
How You Can Participate in Adopt-an-Angel
Adopt-An-Angel began 10 years ago as a mission of the Houston legal community to give back. “HYLA’s mission is to help our members learn, lead, network, and serve our profession and community,” said Lauren Brogdon, president of the HYLA Board. “As a result of the tragic events this year, it has never been more important for young lawyers to serve the city of Houston and its most vulnerable residents.”
If you would like to contribute to the Adopt-An-Angel program, please send an email to Adopt-an-Angel.