5 Loaves hosts over 400 children at Christmas event

5 Loaves hosts over 400 children at Christmas event

An annual Christmas tradition in Sachse returned to an in-person format with festivities for over 400 children and their parents.

Audrey Wallace, executive director of 5 Loaves Food Pantry, said it was important to her to provide an in-person experience rather than having families drive by to pick up needed gifts this holiday season. In the past two years, the event was held as a drive-thru because of the pandemic.

For 2022, Wallace said “we’re not doing that again” and months of planning created an outreach that provided gifts, food, fun and an opportunity to meet Santa for 405 children.

She also thanked the event’s sponsors — Life Community Enrichment and First United Methodist Church in Sachse — for helping make the sixth iteration of Christmas for the Children possible.

Additionally, local exchange students and international volunteer organization, Altrusa, gave their time to distribute books, hygiene bags, family gift bags and individual gift bags. Families also had a photo opportunity with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

At the event, Altrusa volunteers said they were “sharing the gift of literacy” with attendees by providing age-appropriate books for families to read. Each child in attendance also went home with $50 in gift cards to Target or Walmart.

Beside gifts, families were able to enjoy a pizza lunch and game time at TNT Gaming Center, which is located at 7010 S. State Highway 78 in Sachse.

Co-owner Kendall Walles said hosting the event was a way for the business to engage positively with the community. “We’re here for the families and the community,” Walles said. “Our primary goal is to give back to the community and have a safe, family-friendly place for them to enjoy.”

Renee Nicholas, a board member for 5 Loaves, said the experience may be the only holiday celebration families in attendance may have.

“These kids may not have Christmas without this,” Nicholas said. “It feels great to be able to do it for them.”

Wallace agreed, adding that volunteers and community partners are a big reason behind the event.

“It’s something that they probably don’t get,” Wallace said. “Some of them might not receive anything if they don’t get anything from 5 Loaves. We have some wonderful partners that gave them a great experience.”

Because of the large number of children participating, the nonprofit hosted three 90-minute sessions for families from 1:30-3 p.m., 3:30-5 p.m. and 5:30-7 p.m., said Wallace. Beyond the rush to collect gift cards and donations from groups, such as the Go-Getters at the senior center, the event takes months of planning and outreach, she added.

One of the volunteers Wallace made sure to thank by name was Kimberly Powell, who she said starts working in June to solicit donations of toys for the event.

“She works tirelessly and gets groups to come into her house to bag up all these things,” Wallace said. “I couldn’t do it without her.”

CEO Life Community Enrichment Dawna Hubert, 5 Loaves Executive Director Audrey Wallace, Sachse Mayor Jeff Bickerstaff and City Manager Gina Nash smile for the camera during the Christmas for the Children event Sunday, Dec. 18.

Several volunteers who were exchange students in Sachse helped hand out gifts at 5 Loaves’ Christmas for the Children event Sunday, Dec. 16.

Months of planning created an outreach that provided gifts, food, fun and an opportunity to meet Santa for 405 children at the 5 Loaves Christmas for the Children event.