CFRI participates in Foster Angels 3rd Annual Toys for Teens Holiday Sponsorship Drive
By Kate McKerlie
Around the world children wake up Christmas morning to spend time with their friends and families exchanging gifts. The holidays are typically a special and exciting time for youth, but not all children get to experience the holiday festivities with their families. Many children, particularly those in foster care are specifically reminded of the lack of family or social support they may have this time of year.
For the past three years Foster Angels of Central Texas, located right here in Austin, serves the foster children of Region 7 in Travis and surrounding counties. As of last year, there were over 5,200 children in foster care in Region 7. Every year, Foster Angels has been hosting a “Toys for Teens Holiday Sponsorship Drive.” This is an opportunity for Central Texas community members to sponsor teens in foster care by providing them with their holiday wish list items. This year Foster Angels is sponsoring 25 special teens, and CFRI has sponsored two of these teens. Each CFRI staff has made a monetary donation to help these two teens celebrate the holidays and receive their wish list items.
The first teen CFRI sponsored is a 15 year old male named J* that is currently placed in another state. According to Foster Angels, he has done really well in his treatment program and hopes to be adopted after completing his program. J’s birthday happens to be 3 days from Christmas, so we hope our donation will also help him through this time of the year when he usually struggles with his self-esteem. J is a talented singer and enjoys performing and sharing his talent with others. He also enjoys fashion. J’s weight has fluctuated since moving out of state so he would really appreciate new clothing. CFRI purchased a Simon Mall gift card for new clothing and shoes, an iTunes gift card, a vocal instruction book, and looked into online voice lessons.
The second teen, A* is an 18 year old female in extended foster care. A has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and sometimes has difficulty expressing herself in social situations. A is a talented artist and uses her creations to help express her emotions to others. A has also experienced some weight fluctuation in the past six months and could use new clothing. CFRI also purchased a Simon Mall gift card for A, along with a nice set of noise-reducing headphones for A’s MP3 player. Tina Adkins, CFRI Research Associate, also purchased some high quality art supplies so that A can continue to create art.
While our donations cannot replace the love and support of family, we hope these gifts help A and J celebrate and enjoy the holidays a little more this year. There are thousands of youth in Travis County like A and J. Particularly older teens, as they tend to age out of care before they are adopted. To learn more about Foster Angels, and how you can support teens in celebrating the holidays, visit http://fosterangelsctx.org/how-to-help/volunteer/.
*Sponsored teens have been de-identified.