Together for the Holidays

CITC’s first in-person Family Holiday Celebration since 2019 is a “magical” success

The CITC Family Holiday Celebration–held in person for the first time this year since 2019–drew families and individuals for a festive gathering that included family photos, food, crafts, giveaways, and more.

For the first time since 2019, CITC held its annual Family Holiday Celebration, Saturday, December 3—and made Christmas brighter for nearly 700 individuals, children, and Elders.

“I have attended all the in-person [Christmas] events, and this year’s was by far the most magical,” one Elder commented about the celebration, which took place at CITC’s Nat’uh Service Center.

CITC gave away 40 Christmas trees, plus holiday decorations, at the annual Family Holiday Celebration.

Families, children, and CITC staff crowded into the Nat’uh lobby, where tables of craft projects and cookie decorating drew a frenzy of activity. Attendees enjoyed food and participated in a cake walk organized by CITC Lead Cultural Advisor Ann Lawrence. Kids got the opportunity to “fish” for reindeer antlers and Santa hats at one station, and a performance by the Kingikmiut Dancers provided entertainment for the crowd.

CITC offered a photobooth where attendees could get their pictures taken with Santa. Rick Schleyer, a production instructor with the Youth Department’s Storyknife program, also took family photos and printed them out on site for people to take with them.

Thanks to the generosity of CITC staff and other donors, the event featured a number of giveaways: Hundreds of children’s and young adult books were distributed, thanks to donations from the Imagination Library and by CITC staff. Free Native Youth Olympic Games hoodies and t-shirts were given out to many children, as well.

Forty Christmas trees, plus boxes of decorations, were offered to any family who wanted them. One parent commented, “We wouldn’t have been able to afford this on our own this year—everything is so expensive now. We’re really grateful for CITC’s generosity.”

The Family Holiday Celebration is possible because of the giving spirit of CITC and CIRI employees. In addition to working the event, each year CITC staff raise funds in a friendly competition to see which department can contribute the most to the celebration. This year, more than 100 staff donated over $11,000 to make the celebration happen.

Both the CITC and CIRI leadership are deeply committed to this event through their annual board giving campaign; CIRI matches all funds donated by CIRI board members.

CITC would also like to thank Alaska Airlines for their donations of $1,500 to the Family Holiday Celebration.

“This has been a tough couple of years for folks, and I know that higher living costs are making things harder for our families. The Family Holiday Celebration truly lifts our families up and makes the holidays brighter for our CITC kids,” said Senior Director of Development Kelly Hurd. “We are so grateful for the generosity of our staff, leadership, and community partners for helping to continue this cherished tradition.”

Thanks to generous donations from individuals and the Imagination Library, families and children received free children’s and young adult books at the Holiday Celebration.
CITC staff hosted activity tables, like the cookie-decorating station, at the Holiday Celebration.