For the third year in a row, Urban Tulsa Weekly is proud to sponsor, in conjunction with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Christmas for Kids to provide Christmas gifts for children and teenagers living in temporary and permanent foster care.
DHS will partner with various Tulsa businesses and organizations in order to provide gifts for the 1,400 children living in the Tulsa County Shelter, foster homes, group homes, in-patient settings, contracted settings and reunified homes. UTW hopes to give, with generous support from our readers, at least 100 of those gifts. Last year, we were able to provide, through generous donations made by our readers, gifts for 150 children and an additional $1,500 in gift certificates for teenagers and other children not on the list.
The tree on the opposite page lists the Christmas wishes of children in permanent DHS foster care, ages infant to 18.
Confidentiality requires the children's names not be printed; numbers, instead, take their place. Choose one or two gifts to buy, then bring them to Urban Tulsa Weekly's offices, at 710 S. Kenosha.
Do not wrap the gift, but affix somewhere the number of the child for which the gift is intended. The foster parents and group home workers enjoying wrapping these gifts and sharing a part of their children's Christmas joy.
Readers are also invited to buy non-specific but oft-requested gifts and bring them to our offices unwrapped. Gifts that are always needed include car seats, dolls, infant toys, pre-school educational toys, bicycles and tricycles, games, remote control vehicles, sleeping and overnight bags, bath/body items, cassette/CD players and radios, electronic hand-held games, sports equipment and jewelry.
Sometimes overlooked in campaigns like these are the needs of older children in DHS custody, who tend to want and need clothes, music and make-up. For these children and others, DHS strong recommends buying gift certificates to Wal-Mart, Target, Kohl's, Ross, Gordman's, Old Navy, or Woodland Hills or Promenade Mall.
From the campaign's get-go last year, we were overwhelmed with the generosity of our readers, leading us to add new children to our tree almost every week. By the end, a generous, anonymous donor bought gift certificates for the remaining children on the list.
The deadline to make your donation is Monday, Dec. 10. Please bring all donations to our offices at 710 S. Kenosha in downtown Tulsa between 7th and 8th Streets. For information or inquiries, call 592-5550 and ask for Kendra or Nancy or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, with "Christmas for Kids" as the subject.
In addition to but separate from the Christmas for Kids Campaign, UTW will spend the month promoting adoption awareness for children in permanent foster care, with at least two or three children available for adoption showcased each week. The children in the photos are separate from those featured on the Christmas tree. We hope these photos and biographies will inspire some of our readers to consider adoption as a way of completing their families. For more inspiration stories of adoption, see last week's cover feature, "The Making of a Family," in the Nov. 1-7 issue.
If you are interested in finding out more about adoption or adopting one of the children seen in Urban Tulsa Weekly, contact Jane Eneff at DHS, 581-2552.
And, if as you're reading you have questions about adoption you think UTW should address during National Adoption Awareness Month, please e-mail Managing Editor Holly Wall at email@example.com. As we continue to cover adoption and foster care issues, we will attempt to provide as much content and information as possible.
We urge you to open your hearts this holiday season and assist our children in having a very merry Christmas.
Home for the Holidays
Evelyn "Vicky" C.
Vicky is an 11-year-old who loves to laugh, smile and have fun. She likes to interact with others, listen to music and play with her stuffed animals, and she enjoys being around people. Vicky has been diagnosed with Angelman Syndrome, which is a neurological disorder associated with mental delay. She can walk short distances with assistance. She needs a family who can help her with daily living skills.
Quintrell C., Nakesha C., DeAndre C.
DeAndre, 12, likes sports, particularly football and basketball. Quintrell, 14, and Nakesha, 10, are very active in their church and enjoy singing and dancing. They all enjoy roller skating and hanging out with friends. They want a home where they can all be together and would like to live in the city where there are lots of things to do.
Robert is 15 and loves to read, play video games and watch television. He also enjoys attending church and playing basketball. Robert has excellent communication skills and wants a family he can trust.
Bringing Children Home, One by One
Throughout the month of November and in conjunction with our effort to aid DHS's "Christmas for Kids" campaign, Urban Tulsa Weekly plans to provide readers with information about adoption in each week's edition.
One area of adoption that requires some special attention, in Tulsa, in Oklahoma and across the nation, is the problem of increasing awareness about this issue in African American communities. An organization established for just that purpose is One Church, One Child, and, in Oklahoma, this organization has helped almost adoptive 1,500 children find placement in permanent homes.
Valarie Howard is the director of One Church, One Child in Oklahoma. Her father (name) started the organization in 1988 after meeting the national organization's founder, Father George Clements, then pastor of Holy Angels Church in Chicago. Clements founded One Church, One Child in 1980 to raise awareness in Chicago's African American communities about the need for safe, loving homes for African American children in permanent foster care.
The idea is that if each church in that community can recruit one family willing to adopt, then, one by one, each child in foster care could be placed in a loving home.
(Dad's name) adopted two sons of his own, and when he met Clements, he wanted to bring Clements' idea to Oklahoma. He began One Church, One Child with the help of Oklahoma Department of Human Services caseworker Mary Breshers and several of members of the African American clergy, including the Reverend Eric Mayes.
Clements gathered a board of 21 ministers who used their own churches as means of reaching out into the community. Although the ultimate goal is to place African American children with African American families, One Church, One Child wants to place children with families of any race or cultural background as long as they are safe, loving and nurturing.
As Valarie explained, it is easier for someone of African American descent to entire his or hew own community and bring up topics like adoption. An outsider coming to the same community with the same message wouldn't necessarily be ignored, but it would be more difficult than if that person were already part of that community.
As of September, there are 2,652 children available in the state for adoption. Of those, 1,885 are part of a sibling group, 555 are 12 and older, 1,250 are between the ages of zero and five and 727 are African American.
One Church, One Child works with DHS to find families for as many of those children as it possibly can.
The organization keeps offices in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton and still recruits adoptive families in those communities and throughout Oklahoma, but now, Valarie said, people are calling them wanting to learn more about the program and how to become adoptive parents.
To learn more about One Church, One Child in Tulsa, call the local offices at 1-800-865-0225.
ces at 1-800-865-0225.
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