Hundreds of homeless and low-income families will enjoy a holiday treat this afternoon at a festive party for children and parents organized by Compass Family Services in San Francisco.

At the annual holiday party, which starts at 4 p.m. at the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park, former and current Compass Family Service clients will partake in photo-ops with Santa Claus and a winter wonderland, and will enjoy a home-cooked meal, party favors, and more.

Organization executive director Erica Kisch said it is always difficult for homeless or poverty-stricken families to provide for children, but the “holidays are even harder.”

She said that at this time of year, there is a focus on material items and gifts, which puts pressure on parents who are already struggling to provide basic necessities, such as food and shelter.

The holiday party becomes a sort of “wonderland” for parents and offers a stress-free way to celebrate the season, Kisch said.

The event is also a fun break for children, who share burdens such as long wait times for openings at shelters in San Francisco and worries about food and supplies.

“All kids deserve to have some fun and respite from the stresses of real life,” Kisch said.

Every child will leave the party with a book and a pair of pajamas. Local businesses are supporting the event by supplying crafts and activities, including a puppet show, circus performers, visits with Santa and a giant play area.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu will join the festivities, as will Bevan Dufty, the city’s director of HOPE, or Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement, Kisch said.

This year marks 100 years of programming for Compass Family Services, Kisch said. A large cake will be brought in to mark the occasion, with the children being asked to help blow out the candles.

Compass Family Services sponsors the party, and businesses such as Pottery Barn Kids, Green Apple Books, Zendesk, Shoe Biz and others are donating items.

Chef Alex Tamburro, for a ninth year, has volunteered his cooking skills for the holiday feast, with 50 volunteers helping to serve the meal.

More information about Compass Family Services is available at

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!