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Events > 2017 Events > House of Hope 2017

House of Hope Christmas 2017

Mission Viejo Elks visit House of Hope

The Mission Viejo/Saddleback Valley Elks Lodge #2444 just had the best time tree decorating with the residents of the House of Hope, a second step program for homeless women and their children. This is the Elks 4th time being invited back to participate in the program where around 20 mothers and their children call home. This amazing facility gives recently homeless mothers and women a safe place for their families and a chance to re-enter the work force and become stable before venturing out on their own once again. Again, this year there was a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus (members Ed and Pam Mackay) along with 9 Elks Helpers (elves) who assisted in the tree decorating ceremony. “What a great group of well-behaved and humble kids they were” exclaimed Past Elks Lodge President Derek Randles as one of the children handed an ornament to a smaller child assuring every kid had a chance to decorate the 17ft talk monster Christmas Tree that becomes a focal point in the middle of the living area each year.

Vice President Michael Klinger and member Dennis Lumley took the pictures of every family with Santa and Mrs. Claus while members Sven and Cookie Akesson printed the family pictures and Elks Lodge Secretary Laura Lumley put them all in Christmas picture envelopes and handed them out to the families. Many of these families have few to no pictures of themselves as many had to leave their homes leaving everything behind, so these 5x7 pictures are priceless to them. Rob and Donna Pettipas manned the super tall ladders steadying them as each child tried to outdo the previous by going higher and leaning farther into the tree. Everyone gasped on the occasional drop of an ornament from that height. The most elder of the kids is allowed to climb to the top and add the glowing angel as the tree topper. Current Elks President Mike Long and his wife Vicky were runners chasing the children around the house to assure everyone got to give Santa his or her wish list.

Every child received one present to open from Santa but the remaining items were not touched until Christmas morning. Everyone got at least one gift they asked for – many being books or a movie. The children also received school clothing and other items needed for the current school year. Michelle Young, the manager of this facility claimed, “We are all very grateful for your participation in our Christmas event each year and you really do make a difference in their lives”.

Elks National Foundation Chairman Derek Randles and House Committee Chairperson Stephanie Bongartz started this event 4 years ago and arrange this event with the 5-foot-tall stockings filled with gifts that are delivered to every resident at the shelter each year. With the assistance of the Elks National Foundation Gratitude Grant, the Mission Viejo/Saddleback Valley Elks are able to spread Christmas cheer to those in need.  Elks really do Care, Elks really do Share.

Article by Derek Randles / Photos Mike Klinger