The holiday season is a time of giving, and for 25 children from Homeward Bound, that's exactly what Tuesday night was all about. For the fourth consecutive year, the Arizona Diamondbacks partnered with Homeward Bound to provide children ages 10-18 with $250 holiday shopping sprees.
The children understood just how far that amount of money can go and stretched every dollar by finding sale items and discounts to maximize their budget. However, what surprised everyone the most is the selflessness they brought to the shopping experience, which included a visit from Baxter and D-backs legend Luis Gonzalez.
The experience was not only great for the children, but for the volunteers as well, including D-backs infielder Chris Johnson.
"The thing that hit me the most is the fact these kids had the opportunity to spend the money on themselves and instead put their family members first," Johnson said. "That's pretty cool to see, and something I will take from this experience."
Johnson and his girlfriend, Tia, walked around with several of the children at the event to help find items on their shopping list and found one case to be especially inspiring.
"One of the kids we walked around with is being recruited for football, and therefore he decided to spend part of his money on buying protein," said Johnson. "It was pretty impressive to see him so dedicated to football."
Homeward Bound provides transitional housing, resources and services for families affected by homelessness or domestic violence to help them get back on their feet. With parents dealing with such adverse situations, shopping for the holidays isn't always possible.
Dana Bailey, senior director of development and program strategy at Homeward Bound, explained that many of the children in the program are dealing with things that are much bigger than themselves. A night like this allows them to dream about their opportunities and connect with a stranger, share their story and trust an adult to help inspire and motivate them to chase their dreams and realize what their future can hold.
"It's one night out of the year that the kids get to focus on being a kid and not have to worry about any grownup issues," said Bailey. "They get to have a magical experience and to have the attention of an adult that's just focused on them is really special."
Katie Krause is a corporate communications manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks.