SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - For dozens of children in the Valley, Christmas Day 2020 brought a unique experience like no other.
For some, animals are great therapy, as kids' eyes light up when they see horses. Since children in crisis care didn’t have anywhere to go this Christmas, they instead had an experience out on the farm with some horses and other animals.
"Terra It just fills your whole body with energy and joy," said Terra Schaad.
It may not be a sleigh ride, but the kids were having a pretty fun time out on the farm, with many of them chomping at the bit to hitch a ride.
"They wanted to gallop like horses, so I was holding their hand we were galloping to the arena like horses," said Schaad.
The kids, some would say, deserve all the fun they can get, during a year when many are forced to spend the holiday away from extended family and friends, on top of the fact that these are children who don't have any home at all.
"They are living in shelters, so they don’t have even a foster family right now," said Schaad.
Some of the children at the child crisis center were taken away recently, while there are also others who’ve been in the shelter for some time.
"I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have your home on Christmas Day, to not have the people who know and love you on Christmas Day," said Schaad. "They might be safer, but it’s still a change."
Schaad created the Christmas on the Farm program 19 years ago.
"It started off with just my brother and I loading up horses and sitting outside of a homeless shelter until the kids woke up, so they could wake up to horses in their backyard on Christmas," said Schaad
Nowadays, the program is still going strong at Hunkapi Farm in Scottsdale.
"It’s moved me year after year. For some, it changes the way they feel inside, and that’s what we want, to be able to turn a feeling of desperation or lack of hope, turn to hope, and turn to love," said Schaad.
It’s a love for the kids that inspires Schaad to keep the tradition going year after year.
"It’s been my Christmas for the last 19 years, and I hope it is for the next 19," said Schaad.
The farm has plenty of events throughout the year, and they are always looking for volunteers to help support those programs.