(800) 765-3797  fsyr@youthranches.org

“We’ve never had a real Christmas,” Aiden said, as he shook a box neatly wrapped with colorful paper, trying to figure out what gift was hidden inside.

He wasn’t saying it to be dramatic or to try to get the chance to open his gifts early. It was just a quiet comment to his sister, Alexis.

The truth is, for the fifth-grader and his older sister, their lives before the Youth Ranches had been anything but consistent and being able to celebrate Christmas each year wasn’t a given.

“My favorite part of Christmas is the food,” Alexis said with a smile as she carefully read the instructions to assemble an artificial pre-lit tree. “This is the first time I have ever put together a Christmas tree,” she said, enjoying the tedious work of bending the branches into a full and iconic tree shape.

Aiden and Alexis are like a lot of children across the state of Florida. Simple joys like unwrapping Christmas gifts or decorating a Christmas tree aren’t guaranteed to them. For so many underprivileged and needy boys and girls across the state, their next meal isn’t guaranteed, and celebrating the holidays isn’t something they know they are missing out on.

Our sibling program has allowed the pair to stay not only at the same campus, but in the same cottage as well. However, the transition from being bounced around to coming to the stability of the Youth Ranches hasn’t been completely easy. There have been some outbursts, a few tears and a learning curve to understand what is expected of them, but the pair has been excelling. Now, with no hesitation, they know the Youth Ranch as their home.

Alexis, who struggled to find her niche in town school, is thriving with a little more individualized attention at the on-campus Cooke School and now looks forward to her walk to school each morning. Aiden, like a lot of boys, doesn’t love school, but he is incredibly bright and his favorite subjects are math and science.

School is a top priority at the Youth Ranches, but if Aiden is honest, sometimes his main focus is his little league football team, the Gators. Both he and his sister know they finally have the opportunity for a stable life with people who truly care about them, their well-being and their future.

Many children like Aiden and Alexis come from home lives they didn’t choose. It wasn’t their choice to have no other options than to call the Boys Ranch home, but because of you, they never want to leave.

“I want to stay here!” Alexis said passionately. “I want to graduate high school and go to college.”

Aiden and Alexis got to have their first real Christmas at the Boys Ranch. There was a tree, an amazing meal, a banquet and even presents. Best of all, they got to celebrate with cottage parents who care about them and dozens of new Rancher brothers and sisters.

It is because of people like you that we can provide a loving home to young men and women like Aiden and Alexis. It is because of your commitment to the Youth Ranches that we have a flourishing sibling program and can keep families together under one roof and give them hope for
the future.

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