On Monday, Dec. 17, the San Francisco 49ers in cooperation with Sysco Food Services, brought the ultimate holiday experience to those in need at InnVision Shelter Network's Georgia Travis Center in San Jose. At the Santa's Workshop event, 25 underserved families from around the Bay Area were hosted for an afternoon of shopping, crafts, cookie decorating, and many more surprises!
Santa's Workshop is in alignment with the 49ers mission of keeping kids "Safe, On Track, and In School," and helping to bring encouragement and holiday cheer to the families of the Georgia Travis Center were 49ers alumni, including Dwight Clark and Guy McIntyre, 49ers family members and front office.
"This event is an opportunity for the parents and guardians of the young people who are served by InnVision to go on a shopping spree to find holiday gifts to make their kids' smiles really bright on Christmas day," said Director of the 49ers Foundation & Community Relations Joanne Pasternack. "While the moms, dads and guardians are doing the shopping, the kids get to do some crafts. We have one really special twist—our team's photographers are taking photos of kids with Santa and will be printing them and providing them with frames so they have a present for their parents for Christmas."
Jaynie Neveras, Senior Manager for Community Parnerships at InnVision, describes the magic of the day, which included even more special surprise for the children and their families.
"They're going to have a special treat because we found that the 49ers are giving the families tickets for Global Winter Wonderland at Great America. Plus, each family is receiving a Target gift card, which is truly amazing," Neveras said.
While the kids decorated cookies, picture frames, and took pictures with Santa, their parents shopped the aisles of toys with 49ers alumni and spouses of players and coaches.
"This is really cool. You meet a family, and shop the aisles for books, stuffed animals, games and toys. There are also really great stocking stuffers for them as well," Dwight Clark said. "So far, I've helped a bunch of families and it's really heartwarming."
One of the youngest volunteers at the event, wide receivers coach John Morton's nine-year-old daughter Tierny Rose, who was there with her mom and sister, was thrilled to be helping out the other children.
"This is a lot of fun because I'm helping the kids decorate cookies and we've also been making picture frames for their parents," Morton said. "Right now, we're creating wreaths and my favorite part of the day has been helping them decorate the cookies with my mom."
The 49ers could not bring Santa's Workshop to life without the help of team partners, such as Sysco Food Services and Mosaic Global Transportation.
"Sysco San Francisco has partnered with the 49ers all season long. This is our third event this year, helping families in the Bay Area," said Angela Phillips from Sysco. "For this event, we've donated tons of food products from Sysco for the children to munch on, and they've been enjoying the little snacks as we work on the crafts."
After the shopping and crafts were completed, the families received their surprises and went on their way to a merry holiday.
InnVision Shelter Network represents 64 combined years of serving homeless individuals across Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Annually supporting over 20,000 homeless men, women, and children, the InnVision Shelter Network focuses on unification and self-sufficiency. Their current "Beyond the Bed" program has proven a 90% success rate in returning program graduates to permanent housing. In fiscal year 2010-2011, Shelter Network served 4,658 people, including 1,655 children