An Idaho Mom Gives Back With Fostering Christmas
When Monica Sweesy’s mother was young, her family didn’t have much money. Christmas wasn’t a festive time of year in their house. Instead, the tree was a reminder of all of the presents they couldn’t afford.
“She says Christmas wasn’t very memorable for her,” Monica says. “She grew up really poor, and even though she’s older now, it’s still hard on her.”
When Monica’s mother grew up, she spoiled her kids with the Hallmark Christmases she never had. Monica remembers delicious holiday breakfasts, full stockings, and plenty of presents under the tree. As she puts it, “Mom always made sure we had a lot.”
Monica is an adult now and a mother herself, but she hasn’t forgotten her mom’s stories. So, every year, she and her family partner with Fostering Christmas. They make sure every foster child in Idaho's Ada and Canyon Counties has plenty of gifts under the tree. Thanks to her, dozens of children have been spared the sad Christmases her mother had.
“It feels really great,” she says, adding that she and her husband, Bryan, always get their kids involved. “They’ve been growing up with this, and before we found Fostering Christmas, we would sometimes go to halfway houses and bring gifts.”
Fostering Christmas is a nonprofit organization that works with Idaho social workers and foster parents. Their collective goal is to fulfill local foster kids’ Christmas wish lists. Without the Fostering Christmas team of volunteers and sponsors like Monica, many foster children would be left out. Those who enter the system after Thanksgiving would go without a Christmas present.
Helping those foster kids brings purpose to Monica’s holidays. It’s also a way for her to teach her 15-year-old twins and 11-year-old son to give back.
“The way I taught my kids is that they’re giving up one gift because they’re so blessed. I tell them, ‘You don’t need to feel guilty that you're blessed, but you can always turn around and help someone who isn't as fortunate,’” she says. “Then maybe those kids won’t be so jaded about the way that they grew up. Just because their situation sucked a little bit or they had to be in foster care at Christmas doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there who care about them. I want them to see there’s good in the world. It’s not all bad.”
Monica’s family goes above and beyond to support Fostering Christmas by fulfilling several wish lists each year. Even taking on the holiday shopping for one foster kid can be life-changing — and there’s still time! To learn more about Fostering Christmas and claim a wish list for this Christmas, click here.
If you want to help these kids in a bigger way, the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare is badly in need of foster parents. Click here to learn more about the process and how to apply.