The holidays are often seen as a chance for spending more time with family, giving gifts, and celebrating the bounty of all that we have.
But for foster children, this time of year can be particularly challenging and stressful, as they are separated from the very core of the celebration: their families.
However, there are a number of ways that families can give back to foster children, to give them the chance to share in the holiday joy and create lasting, happy memories.
Here are some ways to get started:
Gift Giving Drives
Check with your local foster care agency for information on gift-giving drives to benefit local children in foster care.
If finding a local gift-giving drive is a challenge, another great option is to donate to teens in foster care through FosterClub. You can make a one-time donation, or set up monthly donations.
You can also set up your own #DareToCare fundraiser, such as running a 10k or dyeing your hair blue in honor of National Foster Care month. Share your fundraiser with friends and family and make an impact.
TreeHouse, a non-profit founded in 1988 by a group of social workers whose mission was to create a community dedicated to ensuring the success of foster children, offers a variety of ways for you to support foster children.
You can also host your own event, or sign up online to volunteer: from thank-you card writing parties to holiday help in the Treehouse store.
Amara works to ensure that every child in foster care has the love and support of a committed family, for as long as they need, and as quickly as possible.
Through Amara, there are a number of programs that you can help with, such as volunteering with their Emergency Sanctuary program, childcare for foster parents, mentoring, or administrative support, amongst others.
You can also host your own donation drive, which helps to support kids in Emergency Sanctuaries. Most of these children arrive with just one or two belongings in a trash bag, or they have nothing at all. These donations provide support for these kids.
Partnering with over 700 social service agencies, OneSimpleWish connects you directly to children in the Washington State foster care system by sharing their wishes online, which you can grant.
The user-friendly database allows you to search by holiday, age, gender, price range, or location. You can also search by the types of gifts that are needed, from “essentials” and “educational,” to “just for fun.”
Note that you may also grant wishes to the children at any time of year, it does not have to be solely during the holiday season.
Give Your Time
Reach out to a local non-profit foster care agency about volunteering opportunities, from helping coordinate a dinner, to putting together gift baskets for families.
Check out this list of partner agencies to get started.
Many foster children experience deep sadness from being separated from their families during the holidays. But with the right touches, you can help.
For further insight into the experiences foster children may face during the holidays, as well as more ways in which you can be a beacon of hope and love for them, check out this in-depth and up-close article from FosterFocus magazine.
If fostering a child in need sounds like the right thing for your family this holiday season, learn more about it through our free resource: The Essential Guide To Becoming A Foster Parent In Washington State.