The fifteenth annual Foster Kids’ Christmas Party hosted by the Harvest Christian Center in Park Hills will take place 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 11. Event organizer Tammy Jones said the event will help many foster kids in the 24th judicial circuit have a happy holiday.
“The reason for the party is, number one, a lot of these kids lives have been turned upside down,” said Jones. “And it’s not their fault. For whatever reason they’ve been taken from the home, so to me, this is a night where they can come and just be a kid, not have worries, and not have stress. They can also maybe see a sibling that’s been placed in a different home or see a friend from another foster home.”
The party was started in 1997. It is strictly community supported. Local business leaders, churches, civic organizations and individuals can help by filling a child’s wish list or giving a cash donation. Sponsorship of a child will include a $75 Walmart gift card for ages 12 and up. For children under age 12 sponsors can fill the child’s wish list, which has a $75 limit. Cash donations in any amount are also appreciated.
“We have Mr. and Mrs. Claus. We rent professional photographers and blow-ups for the kids to play in and carnival games. We also do face painting. Little Caesar’s provides pizza and McDonald’s provides drinks. Everyone who comes also leaves with a gift bag with candy and a $5 McDonald’s gift card,” Jones said.
In 2010, Harvest Christian Center was asked to help sponsor the event and plan the party. In 2011, organizers were able to give to more than 300 foster children. According to Jones the number of children increases every day. The party is a great way to help the kids and the foster parents as well.
“This year so far we’ve got 193 kids names. That number will change everyday as more children are placed in foster homes. This also helps the foster parents out as well,” said Jones.
The gifts and the gift cards will not be given to the children that night. They will be taken to the individual foster homes and distributed on Christmas Day. For more information attending the party or to become a sponsor contact Jones at 573-431-8000 or 573-760-2436 or via e-mail at: email@example.com.
According to the Missouri Department of Social Services, As of December 31, 2010, there were 10,174 children in the custody of the Children’s Division. 3,427 of youth placed in the foster care system live in the homes of relative and kinship providers.
The average age of children in foster care is just below 10 years. Their average stay in alternative care is more than 24 months.
There are 2,795 licensed foster homes across the state of Missouri and another 2,004 licensed relative and kinship homes.
Pat Pratt is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010 ext. 172 or firstname.lastname@example.org