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  • Writer's pictureFostering Christmas Team

Helping Foster Kids Find Normalcy

Updated: Aug 23, 2022

Little girl opening a gift in front of a Christmas tree.
A Fostering Christmas Volunteer Reflects On Her Years Assisting Kids

The help Fostering Christmas receives from the community each year continues to grow. This year, we’ve already been humbled by the overwhelming and heartfelt response from businesses and individuals in the Treasure Valley. But there are so many Idaho foster kids left to help! So, we’re well on our way to getting all of them Christmas presents!

With thousands of dollars raised and many interested participants, we can’t help but reflect on what led us here. It started as a humble mission to ensure children in our region could experience a little Christmas magic. Now, Fostering Christmas is a powerful crusade that still upholds the same mission of helping kids.

One longtime Newsletter Pro employee — we’ll call her Jessica — watched that transformation unfold throughout her years volunteering with Fostering Christmas. When Jessica first discovered its mission and the realities of children in the foster care system, it really made her think. She reflected on her own experiences as a kid.

“I’ve never really known all that goes into the foster system,” she admits. “But to hear that kids are not only removed from their homes but also can’t get gifts was crazy. I mean, these are kids! Some of my greatest memories growing up were during Christmas. So, I got excited when I first heard Shaun [Buck] was taking this on.”

During her time at Newsletter Pro, Jessica worked closely with Fostering Christmas manager Karli Lee (formerly Karli McNamee). They made sure each and every gift was bought by Christmas Eve. She has even run out the door on Dec. 23 or Dec. 24 to pick up one last gift! It was vital to ensure all the wish lists were fulfilled!

It’s an exhausting few days, Jessica explains. But hearing the thank-yous from social workers, foster families, and the kids who open the presents on Christmas morning? It makes the mad rush worth it.

“My favorite part of the program was the first year. The kids and social workers wrote us thank-yous,” Jessica remembers. “We all got teary reading them, and they just kept coming!”

Jessica has two little kids of her own, and Fostering Christmas is a constant part of their holiday season. You could say it’s becoming a family tradition! The impact this work has on Idaho foster kids, some who are her own children’s ages, touches Jessica’s heart.

Jessica has an important reminder for first-time participants of Fostering Christmas. These wish lists are from real kids living in 2021. They may want iPads or Xboxes, but that’s not because they’re greedy — they just want to be “normal.” Video games and social media are normal for teens. So, these gifts from Fostering Christmas may be the only chance local children in the foster care system may have at some sense of normalcy.

As the program continues to grow, Jessica says she continues to learn that lesson and many, many others.

“I’m just so happy this [program] is growing year over year,” Jessica says. “It’s bittersweet, but it’s also just awesome.”

To learn more about Fostering Christmas, including the inception of our work and how you can help kids this year, click here.

You can also help these kids in a bigger way if you have the means. The Idaho Department of Health & Welfare is in dire need of foster parents. Click here to learn more about the process and how to apply.

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