Bringing Christmas to those who need it
Group makes sure kids in foster care receive presents
Originally published in C & G Newspapers – November 3, 2014
BY: Sarah Wojcik
SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The nonprofit group Friends of Foster Kids is looking for volunteers to “adopt” a foster child or two this Christmas by sponsoring their wish lists, wrapping presents, donating or just lending a helping hand where needed.
With about 769 foster children in the Macomb County system and 181 licensed foster homes, Friends of Foster Kids Director Theresa Toia said many children shuffle through temporary foster homes, shelters and group homes, and receive little to nothing for Christmas.
“They’re placed all over, as far out as Saginaw and Kalamazoo, so all of the local foster children are not only removed from their families and everything they know in this world, but now they’re removed from their friends from school, and that’s the sadness of it,” Toia said.
She said many foster kids have few material possessions and that some have never experienced a “proper” Christmas before, so they don’t know what to ask for. She said foster care workers work with their caseloads to identify three or four items they would like and also include the kids’ interests and passions.
“They are victims of abuse and neglect,” Toia said. “They did nothing wrong to be in this situation, and most people forget that.”
Since beginning Friends of Foster Kids in 2007 as a grassroots operation out of her Shelby Township basement after being inspired by her daughter’s caseload of foster kids receiving nothing for Christmas, Toia said the organization has grown exponentially.
She estimated that hundreds of volunteers help about 1,000 foster children each Christmas.
Kristine Powers, the volunteer coordinator with Friends of Foster Kids, said she has been on board since the operation established its roots and that most of the expansion spread through word-of-mouth.
“It’s a really great feeling (to help these kids),” she said. “So many of us have kids of our own. I can’t imagine what these kids have been through.”
Powers said that from Dec. 3-17, Friends of Foster Kids is looking for volunteers to wrap presents at the Foam Factory, located at 23 Mile and Romeo Plank roads in Macomb Township, in two-hour shifts from noon-8 p.m. weekdays and from noon-6 p.m. Saturdays.
To find out more information about Friends of Foster Kids or upcoming fundraisers, visitwww.friendsoffosterkids.org. To get involved with volunteering or assisting financially, email firstname.lastname@example.org.