A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Amazon elves from Hebron Fulfillment Center deliver holiday cheer to Lighthouse Youth Services

By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

Some Amazon “elves” from the Hebron Fulfillment Center delivered a sleigh filled with Christmas presents to children at Lighthouse Youth and Family Services in Cincinnati Wednesday morning.

A little guest customizes a cookie, with a little help from one of Santa’s Amazon elves (photos by Mark Hansel).

The fulfillment center is located in Northern Kentucky, but Nate Disbro, site manager at the facility, said Amazon engages in a wide range of regional efforts to give back to the communities it serves.

“It’s an exciting opportunity to get out and connect in the communities where our associates and our customers live and work,” Disbro said. “To be able to supply joy and smiles to some families at this holiday season is absolutely unbelievable.”

Paul Haffner, president and CEO of Lighthouse Youth and Family Services, said it serves more than 6,000 children and families in need every year.

That includes shelter services, educational instruction, early intervention and foster care and adoption services. Lighthouse also works with juvenile justice services and independent living and offers services from children beginning at birth and extending to young adults in their early 20s.

He said the support of corporate partners helps ensure the children have something to look forward to during the holiday season.

Amazon site manager Nate Disbro and Lighthouse CEO Paul Haffner talk to the children as they await the arrival of Santa and the presents.

“If you can imagine, a lot of our children do not have family structures, so they are either living with us in residential programs, or they are living with a foster family, or in some other school or juvenile justice situation,” Haffner said. “What we try to do is make sure…that our children here in Lighthouse can have a Christmas and have something meaningful at this time of year when we are all celebrating with our families. It is a powerful impact.”

The Amazon “sleigh” is actually a 53-foot truck that was loaded with $15,000 worth of holiday gifts for the children and families served by Lighthouse Youth and Family Services.

The giving trucks are on a twenty-two stop tour across the country to deliver toys, books and essential items to children and families in need.

“This is a brand new event that we are hosting with Amazon for some of our foster families,” Haffner said. “We are turning our foster care and adoption conference room into a Winter Wonderland. This complements our existing Happy Holidays Gift Drive where we turn Lighthouse into a wonderful, chaotic scene during the month of December with toy drives and gift drives to make sure that every youth and child in our care has a Christmas.”

The 53-foot Amazon “sleigh” delivered $15,000 worth of presents and supplies to children at Lighthouse Youth and Family Services in Cincinnati Wednesday.

The children waited excitedly in the makeshift Wonderland, knowing that something exciting was about to happen.

On cue, the Amazon associates, dressed for the occasion, rolled in the containers filled with wrapped presents, to be handed out by the man himself, Santa Claus.

The reaction was what one might expect, some of the children jumped excitedly, others waved at Santa and a few smaller ones, who were probably experiencing their first visit from the big guy, weren’t sure what to make of the situation.

Haffner said it is critical that the children get to experience things that help maintain a sense of normalcy at a disruptive time in their lives.

“It’s been great just to be able to meet some of the foster parents and children today,” Haffner said. “They don’t want to talk to strangers, necessarily, but you kind of get down to their level and you get a smile, or you get a warm feeling, and that’s what it’s all about here at Lighthouse. We are trying to serve our kids and make them feel good about the new family that they might have, or the new structure in their lives.”

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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