This Thursday, while many of us are enjoying a day off, eating well and spending time with friends and family, the good folks at the Belmont Child Care Association will be at work as usual. Because even though it’s perhaps this country’s most significant holiday, the horses don’t much care, and they need to be fed, watered, groomed, and exercised, holiday notwithstanding.
And that means that the people of the backstretch, holiday or no holiday, will be at work as usual, and it means that their children, holiday or no holiday, will need safe, educational care, which they get at Anna House, 365 days a year.
The BCCA, on whose board I sit, has had some good news recently. The Angela and Scott Jaggar Foundation granted $3,000 to pay for computers for the new Anna House after-school program; Angela is a former BCCA board member.
And Barbara Banke and Jess Jackson, owners of Rachel Alexandra and Curlin and long-time supporters of the BCCA, donated $10,000 to help furnish the new classrooms that will be part of Anna House’s expansion.
But before the shopping can start for new computers and furniture, the BCCA has a party to plan. On December 11th, Anna House will hold its annual event at which the children of the backstretch workers can choose gifts to give to their family members for Christmas. Hundreds of children show up to consider and thoughtfully choose presents for their parents and siblings; volunteers turn out by the dozens to work with the children and to wrap the presents they’ve chosen.
It’s become a Genaro Thanksgiving tradition to shop for this event over the holiday. My mother and I head to the mall and the wholesale club to pick out clothing, jewelry, and gifts for the event; this year, our shopping list includes teenage, toddler, and infant items: iTunes and restaurant gift cards; Wii games; jewelry for girls; hoodies for boys; fleece pajama pants for girls; tee shirts and sweat shirts for boys.
The BCCA welcomes donations for this event: you can donate the above items at Anna House on the Belmont backstretch; you could also make a monetary donation to help pay for the gifts from which children will be able to choose.
Donna and Stuart Chenkin, directors of the BCCA, and Fay Donk, president of its board, recently received this letter from an Anna House alumnae; Isabella graduated from the program two years ago when she went to kindergarten. Isabella recently received two identical items for her birthday, and she wrote to the BCCA asking if she could donate one of the presents to the holiday party. Beyond English, beyond reading, beyond math, Anna House teaches its students, many of whom come from circumstances that can at best be called disadvantaged, to think of others and to cherish a spirit of giving. Isabella exemplifies those values.
For more information about donating or to learn more about the Belmont Child Care Association, please visit the organization’s website; you can see my previous stories about last year’s holiday party here, and about the BCCA more generally here. Click twice on Isabella’s letter to enlarge it.