Child accepts a doll as a gift
Christmas cheer for our Early Head Start children

The holidays are a time of giving and a time for our team members to have the opportunity to help a very important program. The Tampa Y’s Association Office looks forward to supporting the Early Head Start program’s Angel Tree Gift Drive every year. With 76 gifts distributed, the sixth annual campaign brought holiday cheer to over 70 children in Early Head Start family childcare homes. 

The Y’s Early Head Start Program serves children ages six weeks to three years old. The drive ran from November 16th to December 15th, 2023.  

Tonina Rodriguez, the Tampa Y’s Youth Development Recruiting, Training and Early Head Start Senior Director leads the initiative. She shared the feedback received and the history of the campaign. 

“Our family childcare home providers informed us that the parents and children were very excited and happy when they received the gifts, and they were very grateful. This is something I started six years ago when I became the Early Head Start Director. Back home in Chicago, many organizations would help donate gifts to our Head Start families, and it was such a blessing to our children and families in need.” 

“At the Tampa Y, our program works with individuals that are below the poverty guidelines and may not be able to afford gifts for their child(ren), therefore, doing something like this, truly blesses them and brings joy to both the child and the families during the holiday season. This is so important for our program to help our families during the holidays and throughout the year,” added Tonina. 

As for the staff response, Tonina enthuses: 

“For the past six years, we have had a wonderful response. We have 100% of the angels sponsored and even some staff family members get involved and participate in purchasing a gift or two for the children. Thank you to everyone for making this annual event a superb success!” 

The Early Head Start program is made possible by Federal Government Funds through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families. It is for families who meet the federal poverty guidelines. Eligibility criteria for families also include experiencing homelessness, the child being in foster care or the family receiving public assistance such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Parents must also meet our employment requirements to be eligible.  

You can support the Early Head Start Program here.

Published Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024.