Holiday Magic makes a difference for children in need
Dec 4, 2023, 7:38 AM | Updated: Dec 6, 2023, 1:47 pm
For decades, Treehouse and KIRO Newsradio have been committed to supporting thousands of kids in foster care in Washington state. That includes our “Holiday Magic” program, which started 35 years ago as an idea to make the holidays a little brighter.
It began when Carrie Krueger was having lunch with her KIRO 7 colleagues. Krueger had just produced a series of stories on foster care and she noticed the children, placed with families, usually brought very little with them.
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“It sort of struck me that the kids didn’t have anything of their own. A lot of them came in with just a paper bag or small backpack, but just really had nothing of their own,” Krueger said.
With the holidays approaching, Krueger and her KIRO coworkers wanted to do something to benefit the community.
“We were like, what if we let people buy holiday gifts for foster children. That’s how it started,” she said.
The idea was to have community members gather the gifts that children requested. The kids filled out a form asking for one item they wanted, and one they needed.
“They were handwritten. I’m talking about pre Internet, pre computers,” she said, “so we had these stacks of letters that were in the children’s own handwriting,” she said. “It’s emotional. It’s emotional when you see in a kids own handwriting what they want and what they need.”
And the requests were not extravagant.
“I struck me at the time that the kids were very humble in what they asked for,” Krueger said. “They weren’t putting together giant wish lists but they were often asking for things that were pretty basic, like warm socks.”
Children in foster care often said a jacket of their own was what they needed. What they wanted was usually a bicycle, and the community responded.
“People were walking in and they were dropping things (off) and that beautiful lobby was filled with stuff,” she said noting that one year the KRIO lobby was filled with bicycles.
She says what makes Holiday Magic so successful, is that when we think about children in foster care, we realize they may have left a difficult situation and brought little with them.
“And so I think it just kinds of triggers something in us. A sense of our own good fortune in terms of the lives that we are lucky enough to be in, and a sense of wanting to make it better for others,” Krueger said
Looking back Krueger said that is was the “most meaningful thing for me when I reflect on it is that this really did just start as an idea.”
“It wasn’t sophisticated and we didn’t have big corporate backing or anything like that. We just had an idea about a way to make a difference,” Krueger said.
And it’s made a difference… for 35 years.