Each year, the Foundation sponsors The Ruth Sokolof Christmas Party for Blind and Visually Impaired Children, with funding provided by the Karen Sokolof Javitch Charitable Trust. The party provides children with an independent holiday shopping experience and allows them to develop social skills through interactions with volunteers and mall and store employees.
In 1958, Ruth Sokolof and Bernice Wolfson helped establish the Children’s Sight Center pre-school for children with visual impairments at the Beth El Jewish Synagogue in Omaha. They began sponsoring Christmas parties in 1960 in order to give their students an opportunity to enjoy the gift of giving at Christmas time. Each of their students were given $5 and taken shopping so they could buy gifts for their family and friends.
Ruth funded the party until her death in 1982, when her husband, Phil Sokolof, continued to fund the party in Ruth’s memory. Since Phil’s death in 2004, his daughter, Karen Sokolof Javitch, has carried on the tradition. The Christmas Party has grown from helping eight children in 1960 to assisting over 140 children in 2018.
The party is held annually in December at the Westroads Mall in Omaha. The Foundation pairs each shopper with high school student volunteers, and gives each shopper $100 in a combination of cash and gift cards to complete their shopping. The shopper and the volunteers tour the mall, purchase gifts, wrap them and enjoy lunch, all at no cost.
Any blind or visually impaired Nebraska child between the ages of 5 and 18 is eligible to attend the party. The Foundation sends information regarding the party to every eligible child in its database during November of each year. If you know of an eligible child who would like to attend, please contact us so that we can include the child in our database.
The success of the party depends heavily on the efforts of volunteers. We recruit high school volunteers from Omaha metro area high school service organizations to act as “shopping buddies” for our shoppers. We also benefit from adult volunteers who help with set-up and clean up and oversee wrapping and food service at the party. If you would like to volunteer for the party, please contact us.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 Christmas Party was cancelled. In lieu of the party, the Foundation sponsored a 2020 Christmas Gift Card Distribution. The Foundation distributed over 200 $100 gift cards to blind or visually impaired children throughout the State of Nebraska.
The 2021 party will be held on Sunday, December 12 at the Westroads Mall in Omaha. You can obtain a flyer containing other information regarding the party here. Because of later opening times at the Westroads Mall, the time for the 2021 party has been changed from the customary time of 10:00 AM to 1 PM; this year’s party will be held from 11:00 AM to 2 PM.
Because of the success of 2020’s gift card distribution in reaching children in Greater Nebraska, we are again offering the option to receive a gift card to Greater Nebraska children (those who live more than a 45 minute drive from the Westroads Mall in Omaha). Those children may be registered to receive a gift card at by completing the registration form on this page our website and checking the box indicating that they qualify as a Greater Nebraska resident. $100 Gift cards will be distributed by U.S. mail the week of December 12. Greater Nebraska children are, of course, welcome to register for and attend the in-person party on December 12.
Registration for the party and the Greater Nebraska gift card distribution opens on Monday, November 8, and closes on Friday, December 3. Registration using the form on this page is the only way to register for the party or the distribution; e-mail, text and phone registrations will not be accepted.
Registration requests are subject to verification of the child’s eligibility for the distribution. If your registration is accepted, you will receive a registration confirmation by e-mail within seven days from your submission.
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