Although the children at Bradley face challenges, they also want the same things any child wants: to be cared for, to have friendships, to be considered smart. We seek to provide these children with everything they need to thrive all year-round, but especially during the holidays.
One of our most popular traditions is the Holiday Gift Shoppe, where children can select gifts for those they care about. For some children, this is the first time they have had the resources to give a holiday present. Last year, one child brought the gifts he had selected home, all wrapped up and ready for Christmas, and put them under the tree. His mother told us that he arranged and rearranged the gifts half a dozen times. He was so delighted to be able to give to others!
For me, these stories capture the true spirit of giving and offer joyful inspiration all year long.
CEO, The Bradley Center
Volunteers from Crossroads United Methodist Church in Oakdale have quite a history with The Bradley Center children. For over ten years, this small group of volunteers has visited the children nearly every month with fun and exciting planned activities. Some favorites include bingo, cornhole, marble art, water balloon activities, egg dyeing, holiday caroling, and of course, arts and crafts. Crossroads volunteers plan each activity with love, and it shows in every little detail. They even created an outdoor summer carnival for the children this year, complete with games, music, popcorn, and frozen slushies!
For Halloween, the Bradley children got to make deliciously spooky works of art made out of staple childhood snacks. The children were thrilled to find plates full of Oreos, pretzels, Nutter Butters, Hershey kisses, apple slices, peanut butter, chocolate icing, hot tamales, and mini marshmallows waiting for them! From these fun ingredients, they created bats, spiders, acorns, and mouths with teeth made of mini marshmallows. While the children had a blast making their creations, their favorite part was eating them at the end of the evening.
Everyone at The Bradley Center appreciates the Crossroads volunteers, but especially the children. The consistent creativity and support that these dedicated volunteers give to the children provide them with welcome opportunities to just have fun.
911th Base Air Force Honor Guard
The 911th Base Air Force Honor Guard has been volunteering at The Bradley Center on a monthly basis since Spring of 2019. The Honor Guard is a congressionally-mandated volunteer organization representing the 911th Airlift Wing and the Air Force in funeral honors and ceremonial functions. They participate in active duty and veteran funerals, and also perform color guards at many activities such as retirements, promotions, changes of command, and community events. They also support local events such as baseball, football, and hockey games, parades, and other important community events.
Volunteers from the Air Force Honor Guard have played kickball with the children over the summer while school is out, painted bedrooms in our residential hallways, landscaped and transformed all of Bradley’s courtyards, and helped with administrative tasks in the office. With each visit, these Air Force volunteers interact with the children who live and learn at Bradley and encourage them to pursue their dreams—no matter how big—and offer career advice for those interested in starting a career in the military.
Paige and Amanda Turko have been volunteering at The Bradley Center since Winter 2018. These two high-school students have a passion for making a difference in their community and found Bradley through their mother’s friend who is a member of our Board of Trustees. Paige and Amanda have organized a coat drive with their friends, family and classmates to make sure every child at Bradley has a brand new coat to keep them warm during the blistering cold months of winter, wrapped presents at the annual Holiday Gift Shoppe where children pick out presents for their loved ones, assembled Wish Tags for our annual Holiday Gift Drive, and even scheduled a birthday party for the children.
Although volunteers must be 21 years or older to directly interact with the children at Bradley, there are still many opportunities for volunteers to help Bradley children build lives of possibility!
Impact and Success
“It is such a joy to build relationships with young people, many of whom have never had a caring adult in their lives, and see them grow and change.” — Andrea, Bradley therapist