The Christmas Spirit is alive and well in Tomball – if perhaps a few weeks early.
Since December 8, more than 100 volunteers have been updating and upgrading the Good Shepherd Residential Treatment Center. It's a boys' home that houses 40 children, most of whom have been removed from their families by the courts.
"What we do is to give them what they have never had before: a loving family that really does care about them," said Dr. J. Charles Hinds, who runs the non-profit organization.
The Christmastime improvements were spearheaded by Hayden Austin, a project manager for D.E. Harvey Builders who used to live down the street from the facility.
"I would drive past this place every day on my way to work and on my way home," said Austin. "And I'd see the kids out front. Always wondered what the place was."
After two years of wondering, he finally stopped in. Not long afterward, he began volunteering. That first Christmas, he brought presents: backpacks and Bibles. And that's when his eyes were opened.
"As the kids were opening the gifts, we were there watching them do it," Austin recalled. "Dr. Hinds leaned over to me and said, ‘For a lot of these kids, this is the first Christmas gift they've ever had.' And at that point I realized we had to stay involved."
Involvement – this Christmas – entailed emails sent out to about 40 of his subcontractors. Almost everyone committed to send materials and skilled labor, Austin says.
And the results speak for themselves: more than $100,000 worth of new floors, paint, drywall, cabinetry, appliances and electrical work.
"I wish you could've seen this before, but look how beautiful this is," said Dr. Hinds, gesturing to a bathroom that has been newly refitted, from tub to tile.
In a week where we as a nation have witnessed the worst humanity has to offer, Hinds and Austin can show us some of the best.
"For every dark thing that happens, no matter how horrific, there's always the light," said Hinds. "And there's the good angels too."