NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — You see it during the holiday season — people collecting  gifts to make kids happy on Christmas morning. But at every toy drive, older children are left out. This year, pastors in New Haven want to make those teens feel included.

“We know that Toys for Tots doesn’t do gifts for older teens,” said Brenda Adkins. She and her husband John are pastors at His Divine Will Fellowship Church in Hamden.

When families are stuck with tough choices, it’s often the teens that go without. It’s a feeling Brenda knows all too well. 

“Even though they’re teenagers, they’re children,” she said. “They want a gift as well, so that’s why we decided to do a gift card drive.”

The oldest of 10 kids, Brenda’s family struggled growing up. She remembers Christmases where her mom had to choose which kids got gifts. “I would say that I understood, but when I went up in my room I would cry,” she said. “I would be like, why did I not get anything, why am I always the one who doesn’t get anything.”

Now, she and her husband are collecting gifts cards as presents for teens in need at their New Haven home. 

They’re looking for cards with $20 or more to places like Walmart, Best Buy, Burger King, Target and other places teens may like.

The gift cards give teens a sense of independence. “They can go buy what they want,” Brenda said, “and that’s the whole thing of it, just letting them know that they’re special too and we are not forgetting about them.”

It’s a small gesture that goes a long way. 

“Let me show them that someone cares about them,” said John.

In past years they’ve received hundreds of gift cards, but this year, they’re hoping to give more. 

The deadline to donate gift cards is December 16. To donate, contact Brenda Adkins at (203) 836-6832 or send to 330 Munson St., New Haven 06511.