Help us to make Christmas merry for kids in care. Christmas is that time of the year when everyone wants to be with their family. Unfortunately some boys and girls living in our community are not so lucky. They are in the age group from the ages 12-18 and have ended up in residential housing because adoption and foster family care did not work out for them. Most of these youngsters have had a very troubled childhood and that’s why they have found themselves with no loving family to take care of them. That really hurts especially at Christmas when people are coming together and sharing gifts to show they care.
The idea of Christmas Gifts for Kids in Community Care is a project born out of a casual conversation with a customer of mine called Debbie who works for the Department of Communities, Child Safety Services. Her definition of why these kids are in care is as follows: ‘The reasons why these kids cannot be with a family are varied – but simply put, foster carers struggle with challenging teenage behaviours and usually won’t accept kids over 12 years of age. Some kids have multiple disabilities combined with trauma, high risk activities, drugs, crime and disengagement from school. Foster carers cannot manage all this, especially if they have their own family or do not have the coping skills.
Some kids don’t live anywhere, they just couch surf around and we try to find and support them. Many kids don’t want to stay in any one place. The young people are housed in homes that are run by Not for Profit agencies that use paid staff to care for the teenagers. The houses are sometimes owned by these agencies or rented from private owners. The kids are still classified as being in foster care but just not in a family. We call them ‘residentials’ – with paid youth workers to play the role of foster carers.
Realising that there are so many youngsters and young adults with no family to love, or to love them at Christmas broke my heart. I therefore decided to set up a charity that had a simple aim – to show those who have no loved ones that there is someone out there who cares.
By Christmas 2014 friends and I had managed to put together 6 gift boxes for 6 teenage boys, and I gave them to my customer who then had them distributed to the local authorities.
I found out later the gift boxes were very much appreciated. I really wanted to try and give a gift for every boy and girl who found themselves in these difficult personal circumstances. . In 2016 we did 86 bags, then grew massively in 2017 to 120 presents and then 2018 was 180 presents. We would love to grow this project to cover the whole of Queensland.
Each gift box cost around $50 and contains; some stationery, a box of chocolates and lollies plus we try to include something that they have requested e.g. make-up, art supplies or things for hobbies.
Every donation is welcome and appreciated – even a donation of $1.50 would buy one of the beautiful gift bags we use each year.
With your kind contribution we can make many children feel that there is someone who cares about them and wants them to feel loved at Christmas so please share this page with your friends and colleagues.