When the Santa’s Elves wish list is posted at area offices, churches and companies, it draws an immediate crowd. It doesn’t take much time for the contents to be sized up, divvied up and often completed. The Santa’s Elves program is only one of many ways area residents can support the Children’s Advocacy Center, serving Ottawa County and located in Holland.
“We have 120 children that need to be sponsored, not just at the holidays, but year-round,” said Darcy Komejan. For more than 20 years, Komejan has championed protective services for children. Since joining the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) as its first executive director, she has engaged the agency’s resources in prevention and intervention programs.
During the holidays, Santa Elves participants can count on the children’s wish lists to include outerwear to brace against Michigan winters and perennial necessities from pajamas to more personal items like toothbrushes.
Helping the CAC in other ways is just as easy. In addition to three main fundraising events each year, the gift of time is most appreciated. Vetted volunteers are needed at the facility, in the community and in the office. At the center, volunteers assist in providing comfort to anxious and distressed children. Activities include reading, art projects and puzzles.
“It is our responsibility to keep children safe,” Komejan said. To that end, the CAC developed a presentation called “Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children,” which is available to interested community groups. The forensic interview protocol developed at the CAC has been copied and used as a model throughout the country.
The center has a wish list, too, Komejan said. From child therapy supplies to juice boxes, even copy paper and paper towels. “No gift is too small,” she said.n
Children’s Advocacy Center Abuse Prevention and Intervention 12125 Union St. Holland 616-383-6123 cac-ottawa.org