Contact: Jan Bretz

Email: jbretz1@cox.net

Phone: (620) 662-0393

12 Days of Christmas aids hurting families The 12 Days of Christmas program is designed to bring expectancy and hope to a family who has lost a child, parent or spouse and are facing the holidays without this loved one. This program is for the parent who would like to erase days between Nov. 20 and Jan. 2 because of the loss in their family.

Hutchinson Compassionate Friends and Tenth Avenue United Methodist Searchers do a family or two or three each season. In 2010, 13 families received Twelve Days in Hutch and Wichita.

After one present arrives with the card that announces, "On the FIRST day of Christmas our friends gave to us ONE______," everyone in the family begins to guess where, when and what will arrive on day 2. Day 2's gift of two packages of cookies or two candles might be waiting on the front porch when the children get home from school, or it may show up on Mom's desk at work. The office at school may be holding Day 4's gift for the family student there. Day 11 is a tough one for finding11 items to present, so we usually have pizzas delivered, each with eleven pepperonis! A large can of popcorn can be used any day with words like, "Six popcorn and their friends!", or "Ten popcorn and..."

Using a sign-up sheet will ensure that gifts are not repeated. Gifts need not be expensive, and home-baked items are welcomed enthusiastically, too! This is not a relief program with coats, money, bicycles and CD players for a family in need. Those items may be discretely given to a parent to present to children themselves. Instead, 12 Days of Christmas gives a family a daily reminder that someone is thinking of them and adding hope and surprise to their season.

Jan Bretz (620.662.0393) coordinates the program and leads a free bereaved Moms groups in her home and is the Compassionate Friends facilitator in Hutchinson. Her 'new Moms' and their families receive 12 Days from previous recipients. Planning and giving the gifts is a rewarding experience for families. Running to the porch, dropping the gift, ringing the doorbell and running is something Jan's kids still talk and laugh about! Contact Bretz to learn more about starting a 12 Days of Christmas program for bereaved families in your community.