By ROSIE GITHINJI
MT. VERNON —
With the holiday season fast approaching, children everywhere are perfecting their Christmas wish lists. Christian Social Services is doing its part to make sure each child in its foster care program gets their Christmas wish.
Cassidy Beck, development coordinator for Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois, said all of the wish lists for the Secret Santa program will all be turned in by the end of the first week of November.
“Every Christmas we ask the community to sponsor a foster child’s wish list or to donate,” Beck said. “Most kids ask for five to six presents.”
Beck said there are about 160 children in the area who are participating in the program, some of which already have a sponsor. The goal of the program is to make sure each child in the foster care program receives a gift. This year, the number of children has grown, while the number of sponsors has dropped.
“In the past, we have had really great responses,” she said of the many sponsors which have participated in the program.
Sponsors have ranged from area churches to Walgreens Distribution and the children of St. Mary Grade School and Summersville Grade School are raising money to donate to the program this year, Beck said.
There are multiple ways a sponsor can help a foster child this holiday season. They have the choice to either buy the presents on the wish list or donate money for the purchase of items. Sponsors can also ask to be matched with a boy or a girl, Beck said. A family can request a child’s list whose age is similar to their own children so their children can help pick out the gifts. Beck said workers at a business can join together to sponsor a child as well.
“I am confident every kid will have their wish list fulfilled,” Beck said. “We would just like additional sponsors. We are very grateful for all the sponsors we have. Unfortunately, we just don’t have enough.”
Beck said sponsors are asked to have all their items delivered, unwrapped, by Dec. 3 so CSS case workers can distribute gifts to foster parents so they may integrate the gifts into their Christmas traditions.
Those who wish to help may send a donation to Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois, 219 Withers Drive, Mt. Vernon, IL 62864, or call Beck at 244-0344, ext. 248 for more information.