All grown up, Christmas Angel recipient now gives other kids the joy he felt
Christmas Angel is sponsored by America First Credit Union
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - The Christmas Angel program, presented by Arizona’s Family and The Salvation Army and sponsored by America First Credit Union, helps more than 50,000 Arizona kids every year.
Hundreds of thousands of kids have received gifts from the Christmas Angel program over its 36-year history. Devin Del Palacio, who is a member of the Tolleson Union High School District Governing Board, was one of them. He and his younger sister were raised by a single mom. It was rough much of the time, but Christmas was always magical.
“I remember I got a fire truck one year. I remember I got some action figures that I really wanted,” he recalled, a smile lighting up his face. “It was enough for me. It was enough that somebody would take the time to buy that for me – people I’ve never met before.”
He didn’t learn that those gifts came to him from the Christmas Angel program until he was older. He said his mom had him make a list of three things that he wanted for Christmas.
“She would just say, ‘Make a list,” he said. “She didn’t say who was getting it. I guess I thought it was Santa.”
His lists went to Santa’s helpers here in Arizona. He was amazed to learn that other Arizonans were buying the things on his list and the lists of thousands of other children like him. He remembers his younger self thinking it was “cool” that there were people who did that.
“We didn’t have it easy growing up,” Del Palacio said. “It was challenging. But my mom always made sure we had a roof over our head and something to eat on the table.”
He says thanks to the Christmas Angel program, Christmas was the one day out of the year he felt like a “normal kid.”
“Christmas mornings growing up as a kid were always something special. I forgot that we were living in a struggle on that morning,” he said. “When I opened up my gifts, it brought me so much joy, and you just forget for a moment that you actually have less than.”
All grown up now, Del Palacio tries to recreate the magic of his Christmas mornings for other kids in the community by supporting The Salvation Army and Christmas Angel.
“Every year, I’ll go and select several children from the tree to ensure they get what they need to have the same experience that I had growing up on Christmas morning.”
“To participate in this program, you don’t have to be wealthy. You don’t have to have a lot of resources,” he continued. “For the same amount of money you spend on a cup of coffee every morning, you can put a smile on the face of a child during the holidays. To me, that’s worth it. Start small. It doesn’t require a lot. Our children need to feel the joy. They need to feel valued. And this is one way we can do that.”
Do follow Del Palacio’s example and make an Arizona child feel special this Christmas, visit one of the malls below and take a tag (or two!) from a Christmas Angel Tree. All you have to do is buy what’s on the tag(s) and return the unwrapped gifts to the Angel Tree where you go the tag.
Arrowhead Towne Center
Chandler Fashion Center
Christown Spectrum Mall
Desert Ridge Marketplace
Outlets North Phoenix
Scottsdale Fashion Square
Susperstition Springs Center
Prescott Gateway Mall
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