Special Christmas at Compassion Center

Providing warmth for the holidays

Forty homeless families in Gilroy, including dozens of children, will have an early and very special Christmas this year.
They were picked by the Gilroy Compassion Center as recipients of its annual Christmas adoption program, which this year will culminate in an open house and Christmas gift giving party at the center’s new, temporary headquarters at 370 Tomkins Ct. in Gilroy.
“People in the community are willing to adopt a family or at least a child or two, we did a lot of community outreach to get people involved,” said Dee Pearse, program manager for the Compassion Center and formerly homeless.
She said there was a “great response” from the community this year and each homeless family was matched to at least one donor family and a special effort has been made to include older children among the recipients of gifts.
The gifts and baskets of food for each family and every child will be delivered by Santa Claus during the open house, Pearse said.
“We do this every year but this is the first time we will combine the holiday party with an open house,” she said.
The event, which includes a free Christmas lunch served by the center staff and board members, will be hosted on Dec. 23 from noon to 3 pm. It will include guided tours of the center.
Most of the now adopted families were picked from among 32 homeless families living at the cold weather shelter at the Ochoa Migrant Center in Gilroy.
The shelter houses migrant farm worker families during the farming season but in the early 2000’s it was tapped also to house homeless families during the winter months, when historically it was closed down.
That latter use, however, ceased in 2005, according to Pearse, for reasons unknown to her. This year marks the first time the winter shelter at Ochoa has been open to homeless families in more than a decade, according to Pearse.
The reason it’s up and running again, she said, was a big increase over the past three years in the number of homeless families in the area.
“The numbers have increased dramatically and the (Gilroy) armory has limited space for families, it’s mostly geared for single people.”
Some of the planning for the holiday event and identifying of needy family also involved St. Joseph Family Center, she said.