College students start nonprofit to help kids enjoy Christmas
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Two college students spread the Christmas cheer to ensure children wake up with presents under their tree.
Skylar Beavers, 21, and Jordynn Jenkins, 20, started the nonprofit Make a Kid Merry almost three years ago during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They wanted to give families who may have had to skip Christmas something to look forward to.
Cookies with Santa is an event that the kids look forward to each year in Cincinnati.
Make a Kid Merry not only allows kids to feast on cookies and take pictures with Santa, but they also get to go home with several presents to put under the tree.
“We’re doing 100 kids which is a new record,” Jenkins says. “Pretty cool, but we’ll be giving away all of their presents, so they get to open one today, and then they’ll save the rest for Christmas.”
Jenkins is currently a Junior at Georgetown University while Beavers is finishing her senior year at Kent State.
When the two aren’t studying, they are pouring their energy into the nonprofit organization.
The two became best friends in high school as they bonded over basketball along with shared life experiences.
Both grew up in a single-parent, low-income household.
Jenkins says she was 13 when she learned that there wouldn’t be any Christmas gifts that year.
“My mom, I overheard her on the phone just talking about how she was really struggling and that was the same year my grandfather had passed away, so it was really just rough for us at that time,” Jenkins explains.
Ultimately, she was surprised with a gift under the tree after a family decided to sponsor her for the holiday.
“I got a pair of Kobe Bryant shoes and anybody who knows me knows I love basketball and he’s my favorite player, so it was like the perfect gift for me,” Jenkins recalls. “So, we kind of had the idea to start an organization where we could give personalized gifts to kids.”
That idea came to fruition in 2020 when they officially launched Make a Kid Merry which grew from helping five kids to now 100.
“I believe the first year, I may have broken down in tears almost just because I know for me with the way I was brought up,” says Beaver. “You know, there were a couple of Christmases where I didn’t have gifts or if I did it was maybe one or two. So, the fact that we are able to give children who really need it three to four five or six that about of gifts and just seeing their joy. It’s amazing. It’s heart-warming.”
To keep the joy going all year round, the two friends decided they wanted to go beyond handing out gifts for Christmas.
They have added a back-to-school Festival to hand out supplies and shoes to kids in need, along with a Halloween trunk or treat and an Easter basket giveaway.
An overall experience they say has changed them in more ways than they ever imagined.
If you want to help, there are many ways to get involved from donating your time to making a donation.
You can find all the information on the Make a Kid Merry Facebook page.
This story is part of a weekly segment called Breaking Through.
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