PAINESVILLE, Ohio -- Inside Asa Cox Homes, a real estate business on North Ridge Road in Painesville, the walls aren’t lined with listings, but letters to Santa Claus.
There are thousands of letters from children across Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties and they are unlike most you’ve probably ever seen.
Some of the children ask for a bed to sleep on, because they’re sleeping on the floor.
Others ask for coats, shoes and “new” socks, because all of theirs were used donations.
“'Dear Santa can you bring me cleaning supplies, because me and my brother go to school and we smell and all the kids make fun of us,' and it shows you they might not have laundry soap or other things we take for granted,” said Asa Cox, a realtor and founder of the non profit Asa’s Angels of Hope.
Cox started the charity in 2006 to bring gifts, necessities and a little Christmas magic to less fortunate families.
She understands too well what it’s like growing up poor and going without.
“My dad died three months before I was born, so it was just me and my mom my whole life,” said Cox, “She cleaned houses for a living and she had a small check, which we could never afford real Christmas gifts.”
All of the families fill out applications and go through an extensive interview and vetting process to verify need and make sure they aren’t already getting help elsewhere. The parents also wrap the gifts themselves and put them under the tree.
Cox said it’s more than other charities require and for a reason, “I want people to want to do as much for their children as they want us to do.”
But the letters to Santa are most important.
Cox tries to make sure all of the children get both items they need like mittens and underwear and also things they want like a bicycle.
Although they accept some used stuff, the goal is for all of the children to receive brand new items, because that is something most of the children have never had before.
People can purchase individual items from the list through Amazon or choose to sponsor an entire child’s list from Asa’s Angels Facebook page.
You can do it anonymously or in memory of a loved one.
Amber Travaglio started donating in memory of her daughter, 7-year-old Melody, who passed away from anaphylaxis.
“From day one she was all about giving,” said Amber, “She was an old soul who knitted hats for NICU babies and in the end gave the gift of life to several people.”
Asa’s Angels is trying to provide 17,000 gifts this year but currently are short by a couple hundred.
The deadline to receive the donations and get them to the families is 6 p.m. on December 21.
Cox and Amber are hoping people will step up and help them out.
“You never know what’s around that corner,” said Amber, “Why not seize the day, if you can help somebody today, help them.”
Even if people can’t afford to buy anything they can also donate their time sorting the gifts at Cox’s real estate business and everyone is welcome to stop by for a tour at 2709 North Ridge Road, Painesville, Ohio.
Cox says together we can make sure all children have a very Merry Christmas.
Learn more about Asa's Angels of Hope, here.