The St. Francis House in Sioux Falls offers hope to those who have fallen on bad times. When it comes to the holidays, that goal is more challenging.
"Well, not being able to afford the things that I would like to for my kids and not being able to be with my family in Minnesota makes it sometimes a little depressing because I want to be able to be in three different places and I can't be," St. Francis House Resident Lisa Hausten said.
Hausten recently got out of prison and has been at the St. Francis House since October. She's trying to rebuild her life while dealing with holiday stress.
"Typically when you just look at the holidays, for anyone they can be a very hard time and for our guests when you're dealing with addiction issues, when you're dealing with not being able to see your children because they're not in your custody, it really does play a big role on the spirits of our guests," St. Francis House Director Julie Becker said.
That spirit is often strongest on Christmas Day when the house gives residents a gift and a card which literally says "someone believes in you."
"Many times, I have seen grown men with a tear running down their eye because someone believed enough in them to be able to keep going and know there's still hope out there," Becker said.
St. Francis also offers an adoption program so donors can provide gifts to those in need. Hausten is grateful for what the program provides for her and her two children.
"They give us Christmas presents so that when I have my kids they can have Christmas. They won't know it's not Christmas. They won't know my struggles. They'll be able to just you know, be happy. They give us Christmas in a way that I won't be able to provide this year because of my situation," Hausten said.
A frequent visitor of St. Francis is Ann Thompson, who, just 18 months ago, tragically lost her 16-year-old son to a heart condition.
Thompson says her son, Adam, was a very giving person. That's why she is giving back in his absence. Last Christmas, she bought items for a girl in need and was amazed with the experience.
"It meant a lot to us. It was almost like a healing mechanism. We thought we were helping others, and in the end they were helping us," Thompson said.
This year, the Thompson family is helping out a second teenager.
"I just think that is such a healing thing for this family to be able to do this in their son's honor, but also impact this other child who is struggling with just life himself as being a teenager and then knowing that his family is a tough time to make ends meet and that in any definition is truly what the meaning of Christmas is about," Becker said.
Giving another child a Merry Christmas is what her son would have wanted, she says, but Thompson also knows Adam would want her to do more.
"He would be so excited. He truly loved the looks on people's faces when he would give them something. He would still have me buying more and more and more and I just hope we're making him proud," Thompson said.
Whether it's someone giving a present, or a house giving someone a fresh start, suddenly the challenge of giving hope this season doesn't look so challenging after all.
Becker says she works every Christmas Day and handouts the presents to the residents at the house. She says she is blessed to work that day and considers it the best day of the year.