POST FALLS — The Disability Action Center Northwest team undertook its Christmas Angel project only five weeks ago, but through determination and passion to spare, it adopted more than 30 families to bless with Christmas joy.
The enthusiastic team of eight gathered Saturday. Decked in festive clothes, team members welcomed families one at a time, loading trunks with gifts tailored to meet each family’s needs. Clothes, shoes, toys and more were wrapped with love.
Sherri Boelter, an independent living advocate with Disability Action Center, said Christmas Angel couldn’t have been pulled off without the help of the many partnering organizations.
Working with groups such as Kootenai Recovery, Ambitions of Idaho, Diseases & Disabilities Advocates Riding Club, American Legion, National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Donovan Gates family, Hayden Yoga & Massage, Love Inc. and others, Disability Action Center obtained the names of those in need and offered support for specific needs.
This was the first year for the Christmas Angel event. Organizers anticipate it will become an annual tradition.
“We’ve really created some long-lasting community relationships,” Boelter said.
Next year they plan to expand the outreach to focus on senior citizens, she said.
“We found there are a lot of blessings available for kids, like Toys For Tots,” Boelter said. “A lot of seniors in the area don’t have family close or they are very isolated.”
Jessica Galler, whose family was a recipient of the generous outpouring, shared her appreciation.
“These guys are really amazing. Everything they do is done with energy and joy,” Galler said. “I started crying when they told me we were one of the families. It reminded me that I am loved and cared for by my community.”
A former employee of Kootenai Recovery Community Center, Galler had previously worked with many of the other employees from the Disability Action Center.
“I brought several of my clients here and they were treated with love,” Galler said. “They helped one of my clients find a place to live and fill out the applications and would share updates with me concerning resources they may need.”
This past summer, Galler’s own family came up against some difficult circumstances. Her grandmother suffered a severe stroke and now requires 24-hour care. And Galler’s cousin, who was pregnant, was incarcerated.
Within a few months, Galler had taken in her cousin’s infant and cared for him along with her own four children while she helped tend to her grandmother. It simply wasn’t possible for her to meet those needs and work full-time.
Galler’s fiance works full-time, but the family has struggled on one income.
“The experience has reminded me that even a daily coffee is a luxury,” Galler said. “We’ve had to make a lot of budget cuts.”
Disability Action Center staff members were aware of Galler’s difficulties and added her to the Christmas Angel list.
“They didn’t forget about me,” Galler told The Press. “My kids are so excited. They’re saying ‘Mom, can we open them early?’ And I’m totally going to let them.”
Disability Action Center Northwest is at 3726 E. Mullan Ave., Post Falls. It provides advocacy for with those living with disabilities and helps them maintain independence, find accessible housing, find employment and connect with resources.