Women from Marsh Landing Country Club tennis teams dressed as Santa's helpers and delivered gifts to homeless men and women from the Beaches area Dec. 21 at Mission House’s annual 12 Days of Christmas event.
Lori Anderson, the executive director of Mission House, said the event is organized for Mission House clients to enjoy the holiday season just like everyone else.
"We want Christmas to still be special for them, and so we started 12 days of Christmas," she said at Mission House in Jacksonville Beach. "What we do is ask each one of our clients starting 12 days before Christmas what they would like Santa to bring them, something that we can't supply."
Anderson said the facility offers clothing and other essentials for the homeless, but the 12 Days of Christmas festivity is an opportunity for clients to receive other items like watches or wallets.
Mission House is a day facility offering support and services for homeless adults from Mayport to Jacksonville Beach. The stated goal of the establishment is to assist homeless locals in their day-to-day lives and help them return to self-sufficient productivity. Mission House offers food, clothing, showers, a free clinic, spiritual services, job referrals and more.
Until 2015, Mission House purchased Christmas gifts for its clients, and volunteers handed them out to celebrate the holiday season. This year, however, members of the Marsh Landing tennis teams purchased gifts for Mission House clients.
"We're so grateful," Anderson said, "because you saw the looks on [the clients’] faces, to bring just a little bit of Christmas back to our folks means a lot. For example, we had a gentleman that needed a pair of 2X pants - we don't have that here. To get something like that is really special."