A Gift of Hope

John Regan is a computer guy. As CITC’s business systems analyst, he gets to stay in the background, which is exactly how he likes it. And from his vantage point behind the scenes, John loves to work a little magic around Christmastime.

He has been a dedicated donor to CITC’s Christmas Basket program for roughly four years, setting aside a portion of each paycheck to help provide $25 gift cards for kids from low-income families. “Even if you only donate $5 per paycheck,” he said, “you look at it at the end of the year, and you’ve contributed to children getting a Christmas gift they might not get otherwise — and you haven’t missed it at all.”

CITC employee John Regan gives the gift of hope to low-income families and individuals through donations made by payroll deduction.

CITC employee John Regan gives the gift of hope to low-income families and individuals through donations made by payroll deduction.

One of the things that has allowed John to continuously contribute to good causes is his job at CITC. While he started in the Child and Family Services department, he said, “I’ve arrived at a place where I can use my specialized skills and actually help people.”

He’ll be putting those computer skills to work in a new way this year at CITC’s Holiday Family Gathering. At this special event, open to CITC participants and their families, each department will host a booth with games, crafts, and more. Just like last year, the IT department will feature a game station, where kids can play CITC’s “Never Alone” videogame.

But this year, John will also make it possible for families separated by distance to reconnect.

“I want to use Skype and see if we can’t get kids connected to grandma and grandpa,” he described. “That way, if they only get to see their grandkids once a year, they’ll actually have a chance to see each other. Phones and email are nice, but to actually see their faces, that would be a great thing.”

“People need the fulfillment of hope — not just the idea that something’s out there in the future, but that it’s actually attainable and within their grasp.”
– John Regan

John was inspired to provide this opportunity by his own childhood, when calling his grandparents on the East Coast from Alaska was a rare treat. And it was also a family connection that inspired him to give in another way: John’s dad, a Lions Club International member who worked with Veterans Affairs and CITC, was active in the club’s efforts to supply eye glasses to those who needed them. In his honor, John has continued this effort by earmarking part of his paycheck to CITC General Assistance, through which he makes sure CITC participants have the glasses they need.

“When I found out that our participants could get a free eye exam at Alaska Native Medical Center, but couldn’t get glasses, I thought of all the folks here who are trying their hardest to get jobs,” he explained. “I know what it’s like to forget my contacts and walk down the hall, squinting. So I felt I had to do something personally to make sure our folks have glasses.”

CITC participant Irene Herd is one of the individuals who has been personally touched by John’s efforts. When she was looking for a job, she came to CITC for general assistance. But she had no idea, when her wire-framed glasses broke, that CITC could help in other ways.

Thanks to John's donations, CITC participants like Irene Herd receive much-needed eyeglasses free of charge.

Thanks to John’s donations, CITC participants like Irene Herd receive much-needed eyeglasses free of charge.

“I’m very nearsighted, and I was just in tears,” Irene recalled. “I was surprised when I heard I could get new glasses through CITC. I was so thrilled!”

Today, Irene’s glasses are crucial to her work doing clerical assisting. “Without my glasses, I would have to hold things very close to my face. I very much depend on my eyesight to work.”

To John, contributing to the Christmas Basket and the Holiday Family Gathering and making sure people get the glasses they need are all about the same thing: hope.

“People really need hope,” he said. “They need the fulfillment of hope — not just the idea that something’s out there in the future, but that it’s actually attainable and within their grasp. That’s what the glasses and the Christmas Basket are all about.”

You can give the gift of hope this Christmas, too! Donate to the Christmas Basket program to provide one, two, or more children with a $25 gift card this holiday season.