IMPACT Holiday Party for at-risk children
Saturday, December 10, 2016

Each year, DUILA sponsors a Holiday Party for children whose parents participate in court-ordered parenting programs.  These programs are mandated as a result of child abuse or neglect, usually resulting from drug use by one or both parents.  DUILA’s annual event does far more than simply provide children with holiday entertainment, a meal, and a gift.  The festive environment is designed to reduce the parents’ stress just prior to the holidays, and provide an opportunity to practice newly-acquired parenting skills to bond with their children.

IMPACT students earned community service hours while the at-risk children received a much needed holiday cheer.

The Holiday Party uses DUILA’s innovative strategy of drawing together local youth and adults in a combined force to prevent drug abuse.  DUILA’s generous community partners and supporters underwrite the annual costs involved, including rental of a community center, food, gifts, decorations, music, entertainment, and the traditional visit and photo with Santa Claus.  DUILA staff, Sheriff’s Department staff, and adult volunteers arrange and administrate the contracts, and handle business details such as scheduling and transportation.  County social workers attend to observe their clients, and help keep everything operating smoothly.

However, starting with early-morning setup, and concluding with late-afternoon teardown and clean up, members of DUILA’s high school group, IMPACT, conduct the actual event.  By volunteering their time to create, lead, and staff youth activities that promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle, IMPACT members help eliminate youth substance abuse and violence.

After helping unload truckloads of supplies and equipment, these dedicated young people transform a gymnasium into an effective holiday environment with original handmade wall murals, centerpieces, cut-paper decorations, a helium balloon arch, flowers, and several decorated Christmas trees.  When the children and parents arrive, IMPACT youth switch gears, and begin serving food and conducting children's activities, including games, face painting, coloring, making balloon animals, and overseeing the bounce house.  Several work in Santa’s Visiting area, as photographers, gift assistants, and even taking a turn in the red suit.

While providing this important community service each year, IMPACT youth learn valuable lessons in teamwork and leadership.  Their youthful advocacy effectively reaches the children attending the event, providing a tangible example of smart, attractive, active, and drug-free youth having a great time in Life.  At the end of the event, these future leaders leave the event site well-satisfied with the important mission they have accomplished, and re-energized about continuing their personal commitment to preventing youth substance abuse and violence among their peers. 

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Drug Use Is Life Abuse | P.O. Box 28 | Santa Ana, CA 92702