Children are at the center of much of the holiday magic: the uncontainable excitement for the winter break, the anticipation of Santa Claus coming with presents, and the wonder of gifts appearing overnight! This year, Gavin Arnett, a thirteen-year-old Boy Scout, ensured that holiday magic was a part of the Cancer Support Community North Texas holiday celebrations.
Gavin, who lost his mom to cancer when he was young, wanted to use his Eagle Scout Project to support and encourage other kids whose families have been impacted by the disease. He decided to organize a toy drive so that each child who came to CSCNT’s annual Breakfast with Santa would receive a surprise from the man in the red suit. With the help of his Boy Scout troop, he created collection boxes that he left with local businesses and schools, and he made three exquisite mailboxes for letters to Santa that were placed in each CSCNT clubhouse.
Behind the scenes, CSCNT staff called the parents and grandparents of the kids involved in our “Noogieland” support program to request gift ideas. After the toy drive was completed, the presents were taken to the CSCNT admin offices where volunteers from SMU and the Junior League of Dallas carefully selected and wrapped a present for each child based on the list of interests provided by their parents.
The morning of the party, Gavin, his Boy Scouts troop and Troop Leader, his family, and Cancer Support Community staff and Board Members arrived to cook breakfast and make sure the clubhouse was ready for Santa! Gavin’s Dad, Scott, put on the red suit as the Boy Scouts served pancakes, bacon, eggs, and fruit to the families as they arrived. After a morning filled with delicious food and fun holiday crafts, the kids gathered in the “living room” where the tree and presents were cheerily displayed. Santa gave each child their gift and the excitement of unwrapping and opening presents ensued!
Gavin’s toy drive was so successful that he was not only able to provide toys for each child at Breakfast with Santa, but also for the children who came to all the holiday parties at each of the three Cancer Support Community locations in North Texas. The extra toys and the donated gift cards provided additional support for the holiday season for families in the CSCNT community who have had a difficult year financially.
Gavin’s project united the efforts of his Boy Scout troop, the philanthropy of local businesses and schools, and the donated time of SMU students and Junior League of Dallas volunteers to provide a joyful and magical holiday party for families and kids that have experienced the impact of cancer this year.