As much as we love the Christmas season around here, we never rush into it earlier than necessary. Alas, we must for a good cause as we do at the start of every November.
Next week marks the starting point for Urban Tulsa Weekly's fifth annual "Christmas for Kids" campaign, a project we're proud to sponsor in conjunction with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
Each year, we correlate the campaign with National Adoption Awareness Month. Throughout November, each of the 50 states celebrates adoption as a positive way to start and build families. Activities and observances will spotlight the needs of children who need permanent families.
UTW will feature adoption information in the upcoming six issues. We invite our readers to join us for the charitable month and to partake in "Christmas for Kids," which provides Christmas gifts for children and teenagers living in temporary and permanent foster care.
During 2008, there were 11,486 children in foster care. For this year, there have been 9,887 children in foster care, which is the first reduction since 2005. In addition, more children were adopted last year than in previous years with 1,498 children's adoptions finalized.
That does not stop the need for more adoptive parents and families to step forward, though. Nor does it stop the need to provide the best Christmas we can for those children under DHS care.
Our hope for the Christmas season is that children living in Tulsa County Shelter, foster homes, group homes, in-patient settings, contracted settings and reunified homes receive Christmas toys and gifts.
UTW and DHS hope to provide, with generous support from our readers, gifts for at least 100 children. Last year, our readers provided gifts to more than 100 children. While we still face economic hardships, it's important to remember those that are less fortunate than our families. That's why it's so important for us to be able to give these children a wonderful Christmas.
Bring on the Tree
Next week, look for a colorful Christmas tree in the pages of Urban Tulsa Weekly, decorated with wish lists of foster children ages infant to 18. Wish lists will not include any electronics, clothing or shoes. All children 13 and older receive gift cards.
The children's names are not printed; numbers, instead, take their place. Confidentiality is required in these situations, hence a number rather than the child's name. Choose one or two gifts to buy with nothing exceeding $50-$60.
Call 592-5550 to tell us which child you've selected, then bring the gifts to Urban Tulsa Weekly's office, 710 S. Kenosha.
Do not wrap the gift, but affix somewhere the number of the child for whom the gift is intended. The foster parents and group home workers enjoy 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, sports equipment and jewelry. All items are used, if not for "Christmas for Kids," then for birthdays and other celebrations.
There's also a great need for the wrapping paper, tissue paper, ribbons, bows and so on to be donated to the foster parents for children to wrap gifts.
Sometimes overlooked in campaigns like these are the needs of older children in DHS custody. They, too, need a Christmas like the younger children. A Visa debit gift card would allow the children to purchase those particular wants and needs for themselves. Please be sure to check on any fees and expiration date that might be associated with the card, though.
The deadline to make your donation is Friday, December 11. Please bring all donations to our office at 710 S. Kenosha in downtown Tulsa between 7th and 8th streets. For information or inquiries, call 592-5550 or e-mail HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com"firstname.lastname@example.org, with "Christmas for Kids" in the subject line.
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 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.
Throughout the month of November, we'll share successful DHS adoptions as well as programs and thoughts on adoption.
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 that you think UTW should address during National Adoption Awareness Month, please e-mail Editorial Manager Aja J. Junior at HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com"firstname.lastname@example.org. As we continue to cover adoption and foster care issues, we'll also provide as much content and information as possible.
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