FORT WORTH -- Patrick Dixon hasn't spent the holidays with his family in years or even had the extra money to send home Christmas cards.But Dixon, 32, sat over a handful of bright-colored cards Friday at the Day Resource Center, carefully writing holiday messages to friends and loved ones scattered across Texas.Christmas carols played on a stereo, and a tin full of gingersnap cookies sat nearby.The card-writing party was the idea of Anne Edelen of Grapevine, who gathered Christmas cards, postage and envelopes so people who use the homeless shelter could send messages to friends and relatives, some of whom they haven't contacted in years."I'm writing 'Merry Christmas, I hope it's blessed even though I can't be there,'" Dixon said. "Makes you a little sad around the holidays when you don't see [your family]."This is the first year the Day Resource Center, Fort Worth's only daytime homeless shelter, has made Christmas cards available to clients. Edelen said she was motivated to do the project after visiting her son in Washington, D.C., where he works for an organization that supports the homeless.She returned to North Texas hoping to find a way to help the Fort Worth homeless community. She contacted the Day Resource Center and eventually decided to round up Christmas cards and postage for its clients."I had a drawer full of Christmas cards, and a couple of ladies at church also had drawers full of Christmas cards," Edelen said. "It's just so that they can stay in touch with family or friends that maybe they haven't been in touch with."She estimated that she gathered 200-300 cards.To make the event feel festive, Edelen supplied cookies, a small decorated Christmas tree and a big stocking to collect the completed cards, which she would mail. Not everyone knew exact addresses for relatives, so Edelen and Day Resource Center staffers searched on a computer.Many clients sent cards to adult children or grandchildren. One woman asked for help finding her minor child so she could mail a card.Sierra Spraggins, 23, said she sent cards to her sister, her grandmother and her father-in-law in Missouri. She hasn't seen them for a long time, and the cost of Christmas cards and postage usually makes it hard to send mail for the holidays."People donating the cards helps a lot," she said. "Us down here, you know, we can't really get by. We have a hard enough time as it is."Bruce Frankel, the shelter's executive director, called the card donations a great idea. An average of 350 homeless people visit the center each day, using showers, laundry services, telephones and storage for personal belongings, among other things."It's something you don't always think about, but the holidays are a great time to reconnect with family," Frankel said.Spraggins finished writing messages inside her cards and dropped them in the red stocking.What did she write?"I said, 'Happy New Year and Merry Christmas and I wish we were home,'" she said.Alex Branch, 817-390-7689Twitter: @albranch1
How to help
The Day Resource Center will distribute more Christmas cards to its clients Wednesday.
If you would like to donate cards or postage, contact Jessica Grace, director of client services, at 817-288-0064 or JGrace@fwdayresourcectr.org.
Cards and postage can also be dropped off at the shelter, 1415 E. Lancaster Ave.