SA Youth in need of gifts for underprivileged children for annual holiday festivities

SAN ANTONIO – Workers at SA Youth have a present shortage and say they are worried that they won't have enough gifts for all of their students.

The after-school nonprofit for at-risk youth is asking the community for emergency gifts. Every Christmas, it hosts a holiday party at each of its 10 locations, most of which are located within South San Antonio Independent School District schools.

The nonprofit gives each student a gift, which totals to 1,200 gifts.

Asia Chiaravino, SA Youth CEO, said that, this year, the organization lost some major donors. They are scrambling to come up with 260 gifts before Dec. 12 to make sure all 1,200 children get something for Christmas. 

Chiaravino said these may be the only gifts the children receive for Christmas.

Fourth-grader Samantha Galan said she is grateful for the Shopkins, Legos and Slime she has received over the past three years because sometimes they are her main gifts from Santa.

"I don't get a lot of gifts," Samantha said. "It just made me feel happy."

Chiaravino said last year was her first Christmas party with SA Youth. She said she was shocked at the children's reaction when a lot of them didn't want to open their gifts when they got them at the party.

"I told them, 'You can open it. It's OK,'" Chiaravino said.  "One girl raised her hand and said, 'But this is going to be my only Christmas present under the tree.' And I thought, 'Wow, we are dealing in a space that is high need.'"

Chiaravino said one party for an SA Youth center costs about $500, which includes food and decorations. To include presents, it costs about $1,000 to sponsor a party.

The gifts can be simple and no more than $25, anything from educational books and games to tactile gifts like Play-Doh.

Third-grader Quae Serrato said he is not just grateful for the having the center as a second home, but he also hopes one day he can give back just like all the donors that have helped him and his fellow classmates.

"It makes me feel happy because they are sharing joy to other kids," Quae said. 

To donate gifts, you can take them unwrapped to the center at 1215 West Poplar Street downtown between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. before Dec. 12. You can also give monetary donations by clicking here.

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