Llama spreads Christmas cheer at Harrisburg shelter

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Keeper the llama was a big hit at the Bethesda Mission Shelter for Women and Children on Christmas morning.

The wooly guy and his keeper, Mari Joy Miller, have made it a holiday tradition, coming from Perry County to Harrisburg to bring smiles to the shelter.

“It’s so exciting. I’ve seen them in petting zoos before, but live right here in the house is just wow!” said Tania Andrews, who is staying in the shelter.

For people going through a difficult period in their lives, spending time and interacting with the llama can be very therapeutic.

“A lot of women because it’s their first time here, they’re very depressed,” said Marla Walker, a counselor at the shelter who was once a client there. “It’s depressing. Some people have had bad Christmases. Some people have had good Christmases, but now, they don’t have their mother and father, or they don’t have their children.”

In addition to their special visitor, the women and children at the shelter also received Christmas gifts, made possible by donations from the community.