It might feel a little too soon to start thinking about the holidays, but when Christmas comes on December 10th, you’ve got to get started early. And this year, that’s when Christmas comes to the families of the backstretch, at the annual Anna House holiday party.
Since 2002, the Belmont Child Care Association has held a holiday party so that the children of the backstretch workers can choose gifts to give to their families for Christmas. It was this event that first got me involved with the BCCA; I loved the idea that Anna House was teaching the children about generosity and about giving. I love a lot about Anna House, but this event might be my favorite thing about it. I soon became a volunteer, and then a member of the BCCA board. It is a model organization, and there’s no place like it at any racetrack in the United States.
Anna House provides low-cost child care to the children of backstretch workers every single day of the year. Every day: weekends, Thanksgiving, Christmas. Anna House opens at 5 a.m. every day, so that children aren’t sleeping in cars as their parents take care of the horses. Anna House accepts students when they are infants. Anna House makes it possible for grooms and hotwalkers to go to work knowing that their children are safe, educated, and cared for.
Within the last few weeks, Anna House hosted a Halloween party for the children, and it reached beyond the little ones to help the parents by hosting a program to help new parents understand and communicate better with their children, offering fun and simple ways for parents and children to make the most of the time they spend together. The staff goes beyond the classroom, working with local public schools to help the children be successful once they have graduated from Anna House and go on to kindergarten
This year’s holiday party will be held in the Turf and Field Club at Belmont, thanks to the generosity of the New York Racing Association. On that day, 500 children are expected to show up to choose presents for their parents, siblings, and grandparents, and to pick out one gift for themselves. It will cost nearly $10,000 to bring Christmas to the backstretch families.
The BCCA is accepting donations of new toys, gifts for teens, and presents for moms and dads. If you prefer, you can make a financial donation so that Anna House elves can go shopping to stock the place with tempting presents.
This year, the BCCA is also offering a Christmas ornament for a suggested donation of $10.
At Anna House, the little ones learn English and math and spelling and writing. They learn art and music and dance. And they learn caring, unselfishness, and generosity. We hope that this year, you can help contribute to all of those lessons.
The Belmont Child Care Association
2150 Hempstead Turnpike
Elmont, NY 11003
516 488 2103