Have Yourself A Merry Panther Christmas

Adopt a Panther started because a few families reached out to the school in desperation for Christmas gifts during the holiday season. That first year, staff, parents, and community members scrambled to help provide a Christmas to just 6 families. The next year, we knew we wanted to do things differently and over the years Adopt a Panther has become its own well oiled machine serving on average over 70 families each year and at least 250 children. We open up applications in October, start recruiting for volunteers, and by Thanksgiving most of our families are being shopped for and we start planning for the party. We collect the gifts, start sending out party invitations to families, and the week before we get out we get together with all our families to celebrate this season and get their gifts to them.

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We pride ourselves on the unique experience it is for everyone involved. Our entire organization became what it is through the adopted notion that we have a responsibility to care for and help our neighbors. These are our people, our community, and together we have the ability to care for one another. For our Adopt a Panther volunteers, this means that their contribution is going directly to someone who shares in this community with them. Many of them are shopping for families that roam the same streets, shop at the same stores, and have children in the same schools and classrooms. Even some of our very own student organizations and teams adopt these families. Each of them picks gifts from the families wish list, shops for them, and wraps the gifts to then be neatly wrapped in our santa bags for families to take home.

For our families, this isn’t your regular assistance program. We incorporate little details to make it extra special. Each family receives an anonymous Christmas name. You’d be surprised how even teenagers get a kick out of getting to be the Rudolf or Candy Cane family. They receive a party invitation for their whole family that ask them to join us in celebrating the season with a Winter Wonderland carnival complete with games, pictures with santa, DIY ornaments, hot chocolate bars, and snacks. They come, they enjoy themselves, they celebrate, and then leave with their gifts in hand ready for Christmas morning.

There’s a reason why we do this. We put in this extra effort and spend the extra funds because we believe that there is value in ensuring that our families feel celebrated and not pitied. At our core, we value restoring and maintaining dignity for our families. That is why we do things with excellence and put in the extra effort because every one of our families is deserving of this. Each year, we have the privilege to celebrate the Christmas season with our Panther family in this unique way. It is my favorite time of the year and we are already so looking forward for next year!

From our family to yours, Merry Panther Christmas!

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It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This is my 4th year working with Paschal Harvest Project, and Adopt a Panther is by far my favorite thing that I get to be a part of. I used to always get anxious. I would worry that families would miss deadlines or that they wouldn't know about the program until it was too late. Then as applications came in, I would be anxious about whether or not we would have the volunteers or resources to take care of all of these families. But each year, by grace alone, everything comes together. Each family gets sponsored, we have a surplus of volunteers, the gifts are neatly wrapped and put into their santa bags, the party is a huge hit, and we all walk away excited for the next year. 

This year was nothing short of year's past. Thanks to our incredible community we got to serve 92 families with close to 300 children. What I love most about our program though, is its uniqueness in being such a beautiful picture of neighborly love. Our volunteers and families are from right here in the Paschal community. They attend Paschal or neighboring feeder schools. They live right around the corner from one another. They probably shop at the same local grocery stores and share in this little corner of the city that we call home. Truly a neighbor caring for one another. 

We also got the opportunity to go the extra mile. We made custom hand-lettered invitations for each of the families and incorporated a winter wonderland carnival to have activities while families waited for their names to be called. The carnival included reindeer food, a popcorn bar, snacks, DIY ornaments, hot chocolate bar, pictures with Santa, and even games. Each kid also got to decorate a carnival bag to take all their goodies home. The kids had a blast and even some of our new families were taken acback by each small detail that made the party so special. My favorite part of Adopt a Panther, though, is the room full of gifts. When you stand in the middle of it all you get such a sense of gratitude and joy. It’s not just a room full of gifts, it’s compassion and love embodied in a big Santa bag with handpicked gifts from one family to another. 

You see, with everything that we do at Paschal Harvest Project, we want to make sure that our families feel cared for, seen, and valued. That is why we put so much effort in the little things, because we believe that this will therefore instill a sense of hope. The hope that tells them they can endure circumstances, overcome adversity, and be resilient. 

From our Paschal Harvest Project family to yours, Merry Christmas. We hope this season will bring you peace and joy! We are so thankful for each of you who choose to partner with us in making a difference in the lives of Paschal. It is truly what makes this the most wonderful time of the year. 


Adopt a Panther 2015

Adopt a Panther was started three years ago with a dream and a vision to bring hope to families during the holiday season. The first year we scrambled. Families in desperation to have a Christmas for their children came forth to counselors and interventions asking for assistance. We contacted the few families that were part of our community team and provided Christmas gifts to 6 families. This year we are blown away by the growth that we have seen. Adopt a Panther 2015 serviced 78 families which came out to almost 300 children. We had over 70 volunteers that consisted of community members as well as Paschal families, staff, and even students. We serviced not only Paschal families but also pyramid families in McLean Middle, Daggett Middle, Daggett Elementary, De Zavala Elementary, Westcliff Elementary, and Alice Contreras Elementary. We are overwhelmed by the response we received from our community this year. As we continued to recruit for families to service we worried that we would not have enough volunteers to take on these families. However, towards the end of recruitment we had more volunteers than we did families! With each gift that we received we were reminded of the love and compassion this community has for one another; the dedication that we have for taking care of our own. As we labeled each gifts with the child’s name we were overwhelmed with what each gift meant. It wasn’t just a gift. It was love and hope extended from one person to the other.

The sweetest moments came to us with an element we had added in an effort to efficiently distribute gifts to families: a Christmas party! We generated invitations and distributed them to all the families. In an effort to maintain confidentiality we gave families their anonymous profile names. Even a small detail like this became special as students giggled and voiced that it was their favorite reindeer or their favorite Christmas thing. As they entered we sang carols led by Santa and they watched a Christmas movie as they waited for their name to be called. Once called, they entered a room with cookies, punch, and Santa pictures. Every detail made it special. Children who were late in middle school excitedly showed their Polaroid with Santa because they had never taken a picture with him. Mothers joyfully talked about putting those pictures in scrap books to keep them as little memoirs. Children snacked on cookies and punch while laughing and playing with their siblings, and they came up to pick up their gifts with faces filled with joy and excitement. Parents would tear-up at the sight of gifts that a stranger would so carefully and lovingly pick out and wrap for their children. It was a perfect night that didn’t feel like a handout or a charity for a family but that truly was a resemblance of a community coming around struggling families to show that they are loved and cared for. Families may have come for gifts that night but they left with that feeling.

To those who volunteered we thank you. Thank you for loving your community and coming alongside us to give hope to our families. You didn’t just serve someone in the city of Fort Worth, but you gave hope and love to children and families that share the same schools, streets, and places with you in this little south side corner of the city we call home.

These are the humans of Paschal. Individuals who struggle, who give generously, who come together to change our community and teach resilience to the next generation leaders. 



It all started with a student named Gary. From the time he was born in 1994, there has been one challenge after another. His mother died in 2005, and his father has never been in his life. Although he has several siblings through his father, he has never met any of them and those he has have disowned him. His family bounced around from East Texas, Oklahoma, and beyond. He has several family members who have given up on their relationship in one form or another and he has been the subject of several physical, emotional, and psychological abuses. Because of the instability of his familial support, Gary bounced around to four different school districts trying to complete his education. Soon he became homeless, and began couch surfing with friends.

 In Gary’s junior year, he was training for track, running along one of those sleepy roads where hardly any traffic has been stirring. Unfortunately this day, he was struck by a drunk driver and had been left for dead. When authorities finally came, there were prepared to give last rites. Then a miracle happened, and Gary lived. He might have pulled through, but not without any scars. He spent two months learning how to walk again and he also had to have part of his skull replaced with titanium.

 The summer after the accident our principal, Dr. Mossige...