The 2016 Bethlehem YMCA Giving Tree turned into a Christmas miracle for a Slingerlands family, thanks to the generosity of the Bethlehem police department.
The family is part of the YMCA’s Circle of Champs program that provides support and respite for children facing life-threatening illnesses, as well as for their parents and siblings. Circle of Champs is one of the many programs supported by donations to the Y’s Annual Campaign.
For one family, their first miracle was that their son is here at all. Doctors diagnosed him with a rare genetic disorder, and his prognosis was dire. Yet, last month he was celebrating his fifth Christmas with his parents and older brother.
However, medical and other expenses didn’t leave any money for presents. Ornaments representing a few small items on their Christmas list were placed on the YMCA holiday giving tree. That’s when the Bethlehem Police got involved and fulfilled the family’s Christmas wish list. The Bethlehem PBA, Supervisors Association and Telecommunications Union worked together with the Y to buy gifts and deliver them to the family.
To an older boy in the family, police officers are his heroes, and he wants to grow up to be one. For him, having the officers show up at his home with a patrol car carrying presents was better than Santa arriving on the rooftop in his sleigh.
Bethlehem Police Sergeant Steve Kraz coordinated the effort that made it such a special Christmas.
“After hearing more about their situation and another child in the family who has an admiration for police officers, we stopped at their home and visited with their family,” Katz said. “It was such a gratifying experience to see the love of their family and the care they give their children. The time we took to stop and visit made this holiday season more memorable, not only for us, but for the family. It truly left an impact that paying it forward is something this community recognizes.”
Beyond the gifts, the police also donated food, formula and diapers to help meet the family’s needs.
Thank you to the Bethlehem Police, YMCA volunteer board member Diane Lykes, and all the Y members who adopted families, took ornaments from the Giving Tree and purchased presents and food gift cards. Your efforts helped make Christmas brighter for more than 300 children and families in our community.
to join and save
Haven’t gotten around yet to starting your New Year’s resolution to lose weight and get in better shape? There is still time to join the Y and save. The Capital District YMCA is offering an extra special value for our members — our 20/20 referral program. When you refer a friend who joins the Y, you and your friend save 20 percent on your memberships for as long as you are both members.
Working out with a friend has many benefits — motivation, competition, accountability, more fun and better results, to name just a few. So now, you can bring a friend to the Bethlehem Y, get them signed up and both can save money.
Hundreds of people have taken advantage of the YMCA’s 20/20 program. Please stop by the Bethlehem YMCA or call 439-439 to find out more about how you can save money and live a healthier life.
— Mark Hansen