Friends and residents of Kiva Women and Children’s Learning Center on Skyline Drive gathered Saturday afternoon to decorate holiday cookies, drink hot cocoa and greet the guest of honor—Santa Claus.
He arrived with his usual flourish, instantly becoming the center of attention as children presented him with wish lists they had prepared themselves. But they didn’t have to wait long to open a present, as a group of well-wishers had collected a boxful of gifts for Santa to hand out.
Holiday music and a festive atmosphere filled the room at the McAlister Institute's residential-care center devoted to helping women battling substance abuse. Kiva’s long-term program for mothers and their children provides a safe place to stay and services to help improve their lives.
This is the second year that a group of volunteers pitched in to help spread some holiday cheer for Kiva’s residents. Six women—Shelly Pool, Connie Cresci, Carol DiLeva, LeAnne Jamison, Jane Wold and Cindy Page—filled stockings with goodies and loaded a big box with gifts for the kids. They also collected piles of clothes for both moms and kids.
Kiva provides mothers in the program with workshops on job training, life skills and relapse prevention, as well as treatment planning, counseling and parenting instruction. The program lasts from six to twelve months, so when Santa comes calling next year he’ll be greeted by a new group of moms and kids who have a chance of a better life thanks to Kiva and its volunteers.