How Fostering Christmas Made Dreams Come True In 2021
Fostering Christmas has been creating holiday memories for foster children since 2014. A project that started serving 18 kids has since exploded, and in 2021, we made dreams come true for a record-breaking 328 children who may have otherwise seen nothing underneath their Christmas trees.
That was a significant change from an uncharacteristically slow 2020. We only served 89 children in 2020 — our lowest since 2017 — mainly due to decreased foster care placements during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, most experts do not believe maltreatment of children lessened. Instead, many suspect that with less time in school and other community activities, abuse and neglect cases were underreported.
As the world opened back up, children began flooding the foster care system in 2021. At the same time, dozens of previous foster families left the system, giving children fewer places to go. Soon, Idaho was housing teenagers in Airbnbs to offset the shortfall.
The pandemic had other unanticipated consequences, too. Due to closing businesses and other financial strife, previous sponsors of gift-giving programs for foster children had to drop out of funding in 2021. Long-term foster care children were also facing a giftless holiday. The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare turned to Fostering Christmas to make up the difference and support more foster children than ever before.
Thankfully, our community stepped up in a big way! Our usual donors rushed to fill the gap and complete as many wish lists as possible. They ranged from everyday citizens to local business owners — and each one made a huge difference. A story on KTVB also brought more than 130 new sponsors our way, creating our largest gift-giving team ever.
These community members raised more than $28,000, donated over $8,000 in gift cards, and purchased more than 1,300 gifts. And their contributions did not stop with small children hoping for a visit from Santa. Thanks to one particularly generous sponsor, for the first time, Fostering Christmas could provide a happy holiday to more than a dozen foster children who had recently entered adulthood. The impact of these gifts cannot be understated.
Unfortunately, additional programs have shuttered, reducing holiday resources in an already strained system. At Fostering Christmas, we again intend to step up and have our biggest, most generous year ever. But we need your help! Keep an eye out for wish lists, consider making a monetary donation, or learn more about how you can volunteer.
Everyone at Fostering Christmas does this work because of the children it impacts. But along the way, many of us have created more meaningful holidays for ourselves and our families. If you participated in 2021, we would also love to hear your story. Contact us today, and your heartwarming tale might be featured on our blog. It could be the motivation someone needs to join our 2022 efforts.