A Brighter Holiday

Christmas Basket program ensures families in need receive gifts

CITC’s Family Holiday Gathering invites participants and their families for a celebration that includes photos with Santa, crafts, food, and toys from the Christmas Basket giveaway.

Despite the presents and songs, the snow and the glittering lights, Christmas can be a hard time of year — especially for those families who can’t afford to buy gifts for the holiday.

Tony Seeganna remembers what it was like to have that kind of Christmas. When he was five, his father, the artist Peter Seeganna, had passed away, and his mother was struggling to support her four sons.

“We were getting social security, but that went to pay the mortgage and pay for our food,” Tony recalled.

In the past, Christmas was a festive affair for the Seegannas: The family would put up the tree and exchange presents, and on Christmas day, there would be a special holiday dinner. After Peter’s passing, though, things were tight. Tony’s mother wasn’t sure how she would provide a happy holiday for her children.

Then she found CITC’s Christmas Basket program. Every year, Christmas Basket provides holiday presents to children of low-income families and offers a Family Holiday Celebration featuring games, crafts, cultural activities, photos with Santa and refreshments. Thanks to generous donor support, more than 1,400 children participate in the Christmas Basket celebration each year.

The program is especially popular among CITC employees, who hold an annual contest to see which department can donate the most. CITC employees also volunteer to pass out toys and host craft tables at the holiday celebration.

The first year his family participated in Christmas Basket, Tony remembers seeing red — the red of a toy fire truck.

More than 1,400 children receive toys through CITC’s Christmas Basket program, which ensures that families in need have a happy Christmas, thanks to the support of our generous donors.

“We picked out our presents and started playing with them right away, right there on the floor at the old Cook Inlet Tribal Council building,” he described. “It made a lot of difference to our family.”

Decades later, Tony now works for CITC as a case manager for the Father’s Journeys program. As soon as he came on board, he started donating to Christmas Basket.

“I donate to give back to what was given to me,” he said. “Every year, I volunteer to hand out the gifts. It makes me feel good that the kids are getting a present and having a Christmas. I’m glad they’ll get something rather than nothing.”

This year’s Christmas Basket Holiday Family Gathering and Toy Giveaway will be held on Saturday, December 9, with an additional day for toy pick-up on Monday, December 11. For eligibility requirements, CITC participants can learn more here.

The Christmas Basket program doesn’t happen without help from our community. You can brighten the holidays for a needy family this year through a financial gift. 100% of your gift will go directly to assist local needy families, and donations of all amounts are welcome and greatly appreciated.