December may be a time for gathering with friends and families, festivities, celebrations, giving and receiving; but for so many Family & Children’s Services (FCS) clients, it’s a month filled with difficult decisions. Many low and no income families want to have presents for their children, but can be tempted to skip paying bills in lieu of buying gifts.
FCS’s Holiday Assistance program was created to help our neediest families with this type of holiday stress. This year 429 families, almost 1,500 children and parents, were provided bikes, coats, toys, gifts and necessities for Christmas. Donations soared this year and as a result, 81 more families than in 2015 were given a brighter holiday experience.
Holiday Assistance has two components: Adopt-a-Family and Santa’s Shop.
Adopt-a-Family matches individual donors to FCS families in need. This year 159 families were adopted (a 4% increase from 2015). The way it works is that each FCS case worker and therapist identifies just one client that is active in treatment and has the most need of resource assistance.
“We wish we could have made the season brighter for even more of our families who are trapped by the growing rates of poverty.”
For the many families that aren’t adopted, the Santa Shop is a place where caseworkers can shop for their clients. This year 78 businesses/organizations and more than a hundred individuals donated goods and money to buy needed items. One-hundred percent of donations go to the clients of FCS.
Last year, the Santa Shop served 220 families. This year, 270 families (34% more) were helped. Janessa Oldman, FCS’s Santa Shop elf said, “I feel like it’s a great thing that FCS is doing because there are so many clients who can’t afford to do it alone.”
Holiday Assistant recipient Sara said, “Thank you for your generous donations to me and my family. I was overjoyed and very moved. I appreciate your kindness toward others, and it shows me that people still care in the world we live in today. You should have seen the look on my son’s face when he opened his presents.
Melissa Robinson, Early Childhood Program manager said, “it’s not just the clients who benefit from the effort. The program provides family support and mental health services to children and their families in 13 Head Start and Early Head Start sites operated by Community Action Project Tulsa.”
“We look forward to Santa Shop every year. It has really made a big difference. I always say someone who has worked in the agency and hasn’t experienced Santa Shop should because it makes such a huge difference in our client’s lives.”
Robinson continued, “It’s an opportunity to help a family so they’re not using what little money they have to buy one or two toys for their kids for Christmas. We don’t have to send them to another resource and to help them figure out how to pay their electricity or gas because they wanted to buy their children a few toys for Christmas.”
Robinson recalls one year she had a client who wanted only socks for her children. She saw the tears on the woman’s face when she received what she needed.
“Who would think that a parent would need something as simple as socks?” Robinson said. “We’re so very, very thankful for those who’re so willing to share at this time of the year and contribute to what Family & Children’s Services believes.”
Since 2008, Humble Sons Bike Co. (previously Bikes for Tikes) donates bikes to FCS children; but this year their funder backed out. When Two Men and A Truck (a proud supporter of Humble Sons) heard about this turn of events, they came to the rescue and gave $2500 so that FCS children could receive 50 bicycle and helmet gifts.
“I just want to say thank you so much for my wonderful gifts. It’s not every day that people think or care about others.”
We are grateful to all of our donors who helped make the holidays warmer and brighter for our most vulnerable clients. If you would like to help all year long, please consider a donation to FCS.
Debbie couldn’t wait to instill the magic of Christmas in her 1-year-old daughter. But when Debbie’s utilities were cut off, so were her hopes.
Not long after, Debbie discovered that her daughter and elderly father would receive gifts through the Family & Children’s Services Holiday Assistance program, and she wept with joy. When she saw that some of the packages were for her, she wept even more.
Because of the community’s generosity, Debbie said she was also able to incorporate the thoughtfulness of others into Christmas for her daughter.
When Devon discovered his family had been adopted for Holiday Assistance, his face bore an expression his therapist had never seen before – hopeful.
You see, Devon and his three girls were in desperate need of household items, like a microwave, vacuum cleaner, pillows and blankets. And all four of them lacked necessities like underwear, socks, clothes, coats and hygiene products.
When the gifts arrived, he and his daughters were full of smiles, gratitude and awe. It was truly a delivery of happiness for this family in need. They were so excited, they put everything immediately to use – even the vacuum cleaner!