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Creating Joy: 5 Questions With Christmas Is For Children Founder Trisha Murphy Rae

Meet Trisha Murphy Rae, the founder of the nonprofit organization, Christmas Is For Children. Rae began the charity, along with Laura Alston decades ago after reading Christmas letters from underprivledged children that touched her heart. Really, the charity began in her heart years before when Rae saw her own struggling, single mother receive a Christmas basket from strangers. The then-teenager vowed to give back when she grew up. She has lived up to the that teenage goal. Since it's start, CIFC has served more than 43,000 children in several states.

Rae, who is a social worker sees the need each day for not only gifts that will provide joy at Christmas time, but food and clothing items. She is asking for the public's help in donating warm coats, cereal and canned goods this holiday season. We wanted to know more about Rae and the needs of Christmas Is For Children. She was kind enough to answer a few questions:  

Dawn Tongish: Can you tell me about the roots behind Christmas Is For Children? 

Trisha Murphy Rae:  I started Christmas Is For Children in 1991 while in graduate school in NJ. I was pregnant with my first son, and decided to go answer letters in what's called the dead letter box on NYC of children writing letters to Santa from around the country. I started CIFC with my friend Laura Alston, another social worker, and it was from answering four Christmas letters that season from poor families in the New York tri-state area that got us started.

DT: CIFC started in 1991, but the idea came to you years earlier seeing your own mother experience the kindness of strangers. Can you share more on what inspired your will to give back when you were just a child? 

TMR: My mother was a single mother of 5 kids and we were really struggling once she got divorced. My mother had helped in our local church years earlier putting together food baskets for families in need during the holidays. Now this season we would be on that list. From that one food basket as a 15-year old teenager watching the tears of gratitude from my mother receive that food basket, changed my life forever. CIFC was born that night in my heart as a teenager. I knew at 15 I would do something when I got older to give back.

DT: How many families has CIFC helped since it began? 

TMR: CIFC is now 23 years old, we have served over 43,000 children in 3 states and we expect to serve over 2500 children this year alone.

DT: Each year you must witness so many tears of joy from grateful families. What touches you the most? 

TMR: It is hard to say because there are so many stories. We have seen joy and gratitude of children receiving bikes, coats, sneakers and even last week new eye glasses. It is wonderful beyond belief. 

DT: What are the needs of CIFC in 2014 and beyond?  

TMR: As a social worker I see people in need every day. We need cereal, peanut butter and jelly, pasta, canned goods and pancake mix donated to the Southlake and Westlake stations for our food drive. We will be delivering 1000 food baskets on Dec 20th to area charities throughout the metroplex. Donors can also drop off new coats, barbies, board games, Legos, trucks, cars, baby dolls and any other unwrapped children's toy to the station that they would like to help us make this a great Christmas for the 1500 needy kids we adopt at Christmas time. 

If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at dtongish@yahoo.com or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.

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Monday, December 8, 2014