I could not list all of the people who help our children during the holidays or throughout the year. I write a lot of thank you letters, and for that I am extremely thankful.
But this time of year is especially busy with folks who want to help the foster and kinship children of Hamilton County. I would like to provide as many as possible with special recognition.
Here is a list of some of the people and organizations who will help us during this holiday season:
- First Financial Bank and Xerox Corp will combine to provide funding for a holiday party and gifts for more than 200 children who are in the permanent custody of our agency. These are young people who are not going back to their biological families, with many waiting to be adopted. The party – held at the Montgomery Community Church — and the gifts we provide help brighten their lives in what could be a very difficult time. And, the Marvin Lewis Foundation and Cincinnati Bengals players attend to make it even more special!
- Chubb Insurance is also helping to finance gifts for our children awaiting adoption, and they have brought along S P Agency, Inc., to assist. Fifth Third Bank is also shopping for a list of our foster youth. Their contributions will lead to a lot of smiling children!
- Jamie Jennings of the “Horses in the Morning” podcast out of Phoenix noticed our adoption and foster care website and was so touched by the children that she asked her listeners to send contributions to our FAMILY Fund so the money could be used to enrich their lives. So far, more than $2,500 has been raised! If you would like to donate to the FAMILY fund, you can find out more here: www.hcjfs.org/family-fund
- The Karen Carns Foundation donated more than 50 coats to foster and kinship youth in our agency. The Mason-based foundation began in 1991, when Tom Carns got an unexpected bonus from work. He and Karen decided to use the money to teach their children about the true meaning of Christmas; they bought new coats for the Saint Vincent DePaul Society to distribute. This year, the foundation bought more than 1,100 coats.
- Sibcy Cline and Phillippi-Whitney Communications are again teaming up to collect items for Hamilton County foster and kinship children. This year’s drive is entitled Sweet Sweats for Love and has a goal of collecting more than 1,000 sweatshirts and sweatpants to be distributed to the foster kids throughout Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, Southeastern Indiana and Dayton. This drive follows very successful drives where the groups collected suitcases, hats and gloves and shoes for our agency’s foster and kinship children.
- This year’s holiday season will include more than 1,000 toys from the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys for Tots program. The agency will distribute the toys to foster families the week before Christmas, along with other donated items, such as shoes, clothing, coats, hats, gloves, gifts and more.
- Western Hamilton County Charities donated dozens of boxes of books that we plan to hand out to our young people this year. There are hundreds of books that can take children on an adventure without ever leaving their house.
- Others who have made the holidays special for our children in one way or another: Vineyard Church and My Very Own Blanket, Balloons and Beyond, Lisa Hezlep Photography, Cincinnati Arts Association’s Arts and Healing program, and 4MyBenefits.
- One group that usually provides about 200 bikes for our children needs a little help this year to be able to pull it off. Bike Lady Inc., which last year donated 1,700 bikes to 44 Ohio counties, has told us they might not meet their goal this year and children in southwest Ohio might not be able to get bikes. If you want to help this fantastic organization, you can donate at www.bikelady.org.
These are just some of the organizations and people who have offered to help this season, and throughout the year. Many local residents are adopting specific families or children. One woman brings us a few bikes each year. Another called and asked if she could rally her friends to buy items for our teenagers. Many more purchase gift cards for our foster children.
I could not possibly name all of the people who reach out to help. Let me just say a collective thank you. We simply could not do this job without the community support that we receive, from offers of help like these, to advocacy, support for our levy and much more. We are very fortunate to live in such a caring, giving community.
Happy holidays to all of you. You have made our children happier and our community a better place to live.