|NOAH Shelter Director Greg Bar and Santa Claus on Christmas morning.|
Slippers, soap, flashlights, toothbrushes and water bottles are not at the top of most people’s Christmas lists.
But on Christmas morning, these basic gifts were handed out to homeless men and women who had spent the previous night at the NOAH Shelter in Hyannis. They were small in worth, but the items were invaluable to the recipients.
“Kindness,” was the answer one client offered when asked what the gifts meant to him.
“This is great for those who don’t have family or anywhere to go for Christmas,” said another client in his mid-20’s who has been homeless for nearly nine months.
The experience of being on the streets, he said, “is pretty miserable” and celebrating the holidays in shelter was difficult because he would not be with his son on Christmas.
But thanks to the charitableness of complete strangers – people like Michael and Area Princi of Marstons Mills, Lisa Balegno of Marstons Mills and her daughters Rachel and Ashley, Jerry and Susan Friedman of Cotuit, and Jason and Melissa Rossi of Marstons Mills – the clients at the NOAH Shelter had something to celebrate. The group arrived at the shelter at 5:30 on Christmas morning, adorned in Santa hats and armed with eggs, sausage, potatoes and bread.
Together, they made breakfast to order – omelettes, scrambled eggs and French toast, helping to ensure the holiday started off on the right foot for NOAH clients. It is a tradition the Princis have done for the last, “five or six years… It is really one of the most rewarding Christmas mornings you can have because we get more heartfelt ‘thank you’s’ from everybody that comes out,” Michael said. “It is not normal for the homeless and people at the shelter to be waited on and be given a nice, hot breakfast.”
Since 1990, the Princis have also organized a holiday gift basket drive for families in shelter and those making the transition out of it. Michael talked about the lessons the drive has taught his children and grandchildren. “One of the things it did for them is that it gave them a tremendous appreciation for everything we have and how important it is to remember and act to help those who don’t have as much,” he said.
Cape Cod's Secret Santa
HAC has witnessed similar charity in one anonymous donor - a true Secret Santa - who donated $50 each to clients at the NOAH Shelter this past December, just as he has in recent years.
That spirit continued through Christmas morning at NOAH, where following breakfast, shelter director Greg Bar was joined by Santa Claus in singing a medley of Christmas songs that included “Holly Jolly Christmas”, “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” as clients joined in.
Scott and Jackie Dutra of Centerville, and their two daughters Gabriella, 16, and Miranda, 15, then handed out gifts to the clients.
“I need these so bad,” one homeless woman said as she was given slippers.
The festivities ended with a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” sung by Mary Stacey-Smith, who works at both the NOAH Shelter and Angel House. “This is great,” she said afterwards. “Hopefully, this lifted people’s spirits and gave them something to celebrate on Christmas. This was a way to make their morning bright and start the day off right.”
Inside the shelter’s kitchen, Bar proudly reflected on the Christmas celebration with Santa by his side. “At least we gave them something to remember,” Bar said.
For Santa, the morning epitomized what the holiday is all about. “All the love in this shelter for the homeless is inspiring. It really is,” he said.