This program was created in 1974 as a means to provide Christmas gifts to the children of less fortunate families in the Tri-Areas of Jefferson County.
Janice Schauer was a school bus aide at Chimacum School and upon returning from the Christmas break in 1973, encountered several small children who advised her that they had gotten nothing for Christmas. This broke Janice’s heart, and come the following Christmas, took it upon herself to buy socks and small presents for children on her bus route she knew to be in need. So was the birth of the “Tri-Area Christmas for Children”. With each passing year the program grew and grew with the number of families it was serving. Janice’s daughter, Laurie Schauer Liske and her husband, Tony, became the next generation to join the ranks of providing Christmas joy to needy children. They were soon joined by their son Tony and his wife, Kelly Liske. Three generations of Schauers/Liskes are currently involved with the day to day operations of Christmas for Children. It won’t be long and the next generation will be old enough to come into the fold.
In 2013 a similar Port Townsend program for providing gifts to children folded with no one willing to step forward to run the program. The Tri-Area Christmas for Children organization was asked to take on those Port Townsend families, and in doing so, the program almost tripled in size. It now encompasses Port Hadlock, Port Ludlow, Nordland, Chimacum (the Tri-Areas) and Port Townsend. It became known simply as “Christmas for Children.”
Christmas for Children is supported by the generous contributions received from the community organizations of Rotary and Kiwanis, together with financial support from local businesses and individuals who believe in the Christmas Spirit, such as the SKP Park on Anderson Lake. We have developed strong partnerships with the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program, wherein we have access to the toys they collect and then distribute them on their behalf. We work in tandem with the Food Banks and DSHS to see that folks are notified of the application availability and deadlines. Local businesses help us “get the word out” when applications are available and when they are due back to us.
The Schauers and Liskes have a small army of volunteers who work tirelessly throughout the year to make sure the needs and wants are met at Christmas-time for those less fortunate.
By October 1 of each year, applicants who are seeking gifts for their children fill out an application, which is then submitted to program volunteers to generate “tree tags” for the “want” and “need” for each child. Those tree tags are then distributed throughout Jefferson County to approximately 35 “Tree Hosts” to be placed on “Giving Trees”. The local businesses that accept the tags see that their customers or employees take the tags and then purchase the items requested. The purchased gifts are returned to the Tree Host site by a set date to be picked up by our teams.
There are often gift tags that are left over from the Giving Trees that our program must try to fill. That is where it is vital that we receive cash donations throughout the year.