The Angels Next Door
On a quiet street in Coral Springs reside a very happy couple, Angel and Hunter. Both men are hardworking, and dedicated to their family. They are so normal, humble and unassuming you would never know that these two men are quite literally the angels that live next door. From out of their home and out of their hearts, six years ago, a life-changing charity, Christmas for the Innocent was born.
A Charity is Born
When I sat down with these two angels to hear their story, Hunter explained how they idea for Christmas for the Innocent was born. Angel and Hunter raised three children together and when last of their hatchlings flew the nest they found themselves with a lot of time on their hands. The holiday season was approaching and they were feeling a little down and not quite sure what to do for Christmas.
Hunter, who had grown up in a poor family in Kentucky, shared that he had never really celebrated Christmas as a child because his family could not afford it. Because of this, over the years, he had talked to Angel about doing something for kids at Christmas time. With their kids were gone and their desire to make kids smile at Christmas stronger than ever, that Christmas seemed like the perfect time to throw themselves head first into this very caring endeavor.
The First 50
They decided to buy 50 toys for underprivileged kids so that they would not feel left out at Christmas time. They soon found out that buying the toys would be the easiest part, giving them away would prove a little more daunting. “We started calling around and we realized that it wasn’t really easy to just go out and give a toy to a kid. There is a lot of red tape… for instance in hospitals they won’t actually let you go in and take toys and give them out” Hunter explained.
That wouldn’t work for these angels because they wanted to make sure each toy made it into the hands of a child. So they kept calling around until they found a match. The Boys and Girls Club in Deerfield Beach said they would be happy to have them come in and give toys to the children. These two angels were overjoyed and they started planning for the big day. They wrapped presents and bought a Santa suit for Angel and on the agreed upon day they headed over the Boys and Girls Club, their hearts filled with joy, excitement and anticipation.
Feeling Like a Superstar
“We went in there really excited to give out the toys and when we show up…there were 184 kids. It dawned on us we had 50 toys to give 184 kids” Hunter relates. They knew some of the kids would have to be left out. That did not sit well with them but focused on giving out the 50 toys they had brought. The adults at the club pulled the youngest 50 children out and 50 smiles were successfully delivered. “It was really great, the little kids were really happy” according to Hunter.
The feeling of goodness was, however, fleeting because “…we were trying to do a good deed and the same time came back that we really underachieved” Angel shared. “It killed us” Hunter affirms. The other 134 kids had seen them arrive and they felt terrible that they had been left out. As they were leaving one of the adults asked them to say Hi to the older kids and they agreed. ”You would have thought a superstar from a rock concert walked in” Hunter recounts.
The kids were super happy to see Angel, they ran to him and hugged them. Moved by the moment Angel made a promise that they would come back next year with a toy for each and every kid. They have kept that promise for the past six years.
Christmas for the Innocent Makes More and More Kids Smile
As the charity grew, they reached out to other Boys and Girls clubs and connected with the one in Carver Ranches. The first year they brought Christmas to Carver Ranches they had heard about two little girls that had lost their mother and older sister in a house fire. They only had their father but he was a basket case. So they asked to meet with the little girls separately and made sure they had a very special Christmas that year. (Pictures below).
At Carver Ranches they met the wife of a pastor of a very small church and she invited them to come by. They showed up on Christmas day and the congregation was delighted to have them. “It was probably the most emotional we had ever been, because the parents were crying, because they were so thankful that someone had taken the time to bring toys to their kids” Angel recounts. From that day on they have made it a point to visit that Church every year on Christmas day.
One year the Church invited two homeless families and Hunter and Angel made sure they Christmas was extra special. The kids got extra toys and through a small collection from their group of friends they were able to give the families a little money too.
The third year they were also introduced to a young lady, Alexa, who was terminally ill. Alexa could not leave her home, so after a day of gathering toys and they got dressed up and brought Christmas to Alexa. Alexa was elated and while she was still alive followed and supported Angel and Hunter through social media.
One year they heard about a single mother who was raising three kids by herself and they decided it was time for Santa to visit. They went by and the kids were beside themselves with joy because of Santa’s very special visit.
“We try to do those kind of things too, at the same time” according to Angel, “…we want to do more” Hunter adds.
All for the Kids and None for Us
In the beginning the two angels worked alone. Each year they worked quietly toward making more and more kids smile. But as Christmas for the Innocent grew and took on a life of its own people started taking notice and asking how they could help. While they never sought any recognition for themselves, and still don’t, they were happy to accept outside help for the children’s sake. That help allowed them to expand their efforts and bring smiles to more and more children.
As the number of children continues to grow year after year, they have realized that the reinforcements were not only welcomed but necessary. This year, at 600 toys at $10 each, the effort is going to cost $6000. It also presents a greater logistical challenge so that every smile delivered is just right, thus the need for volunteers.
This challenge doesn’t phase Hunter and Angel who see it more as a labor of love with a much greater purpose. “If we can just plant one seed out of six hundred kids then it is worth it, it is worth it all, that’s why we do it …we just want the world to be a little bit better” Hunter explains. “In our minds that’s it, if just a few of those kids get to do a good deed when they are older then that is really something” Angel adds.
Everything they do and anything they collect is 100% for the kids. They do not spend a penny of it on wrapping paper or anything that is not for the kids. This part of the effort comes straight out of their pockets. I don’t know about you, but this is my kind of a charity and this is why I support them and want to help them successfully deliver those 600 smiles this year. Keep reading if you want to help too.
How You Can Help Deliver 600 Smiles for Christmas This Year
Do you want to help these two angels make 600 kids smile this year? See the list below of all the ways you can help :
- Donate money. Visit the Christmas for the Innocents Facebook page to donate money : https://www.facebook.com/Christmasfortheinnocent/ or go directly to PayPal : https://www.paypal.me/xmas4theinnocent No donation is too small.
- Donate toys, you can have them drop shipped to :
12126 NW 32nd Place
Coral Springs, FL 33065
Toys should be approximately $10. Toys should be educational, fun and promote social interaction (craft kits, art kits, board games, etc.) Toys that promote aggression and violence (guns, etc) will not be distributed.
If in doubt contact Hunter and Angel through the Christmas for the Innocent Facebook page or click here to send them an email right this second!.
- Donate your time and help wrap toys (see the calendar below).
- Donate wrapping supplies : scissors, tape, wrapping paper.
- If you can think of another way you can help, let Hunter and Angel know! Contact them via the Christmas for the Innocent Facebook page or click here to send them an email right this second!
- Dec 8 – Photo shoot with Santa at Hunter and Angels house. Take your picture with Santa. Photoshoot is free, but donations are accepted to help buy more toys.
- Dec 15-16 Gift wrapping party. Bring your tape, your scissors and your paper and come help wrap the toys for the kids. The more the merrier!
- Dec 18 Deerfield Boys and Girls Club
- Dec 19 North Lauderdale Boys and Girls Club
- Dec 20 Carver Ranch Boys and Girls Club
- Dec 25 Church Boys and Girls Club
Happy Helping and Happy Holidays to All!