Foster children are often overlooked in the back-and-forth over how best to reform OKDHS. And that's a shame because, as the most vulnerable members of our society, we at UTW believe we have a special obligation to protect them. And you can help too!
UTW promotes Christmas for Kids every year. We ask Tulsans to sponsor some of the most vulnerable children in our community: foster children.
Many of these kids come from backgrounds that will make your stomach turn. All have some story to tell.
Foster parents do the best they can for these children, but they're often strapped for cash. If you have kids, you know this fact of life: kids are cute, but all they do is eat paychecks.
Try taking your current budget and adding a kid (or two or three) to it. That's what foster parents do. Now try getting through Christmas like that.
You see how tough that would be.
Christmas for Kids alleviates some of the stress on foster parents by taking care of their children's Christmas presents. Foster children under 13 prepare lists that are distributed to sponsors (that's you ... or maybe your company or your church or your poker buddies). Sponsors (again, you) buy the presents and drop them off at designated locations listed below. Christmas for Kids will then distribute them to the children.
Kids 13 to 18 -- who are, no doubt, too cool for real Christmas presents -- will receive gift cards worth $75.
Presto! Instant Christmas!
If you don't want to sponsor a particular child but still want to help the program, cash and check donations are accepted as well. That'll buy the gift cards as well as presents for younger children who are not sponsored.
And your donations are tax deductible too! This is literally a gift that keeps on giving.
At this point, you're probably thinking something like: "That's great! I'm glad UTW is sponsoring something like that. I sure do wish I could give this year."
And maybe you can't give this year. We understand. We're not trying to convince you.
But some of you can give and just need a little extra push.
Look, we get it. It's a stressful time of year.
Peace on earth is well and good, but you have to sort out all kinds of things before you get that blessed four-day weekend to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
You have to put up the tree, buy presents for your family, go to about twelve thousand holiday parties, and make vegan green bean casserole for Christmas dinner at Aunt Myrtle's house.
You have to figure out child care. Whose bright idea was it to give kids two weeks off from school while only giving grownups a couple days off work?
The worst part might be putting the lights on your house. I spent half an hour trying to figure out how I would put up mine because I don't know which brother-in-law stole my ladder.
Like I said, it's a stressful time of year. It's easy to let good will to your fellow man -- one of the main reasons for the season -- to fall by the wayside.
But these kids and their foster families aren't in some faraway place, completely off Tulsa's radar. They are our neighbors. They attend our churches, go to our grocery stores, and play on our children's soccer teams. We may pass by foster families all the time without even knowing that we know them.
That makes it all the more important -- at this time of year especially -- to consider giving to a project like Christmas for Kids.
Clearly, you don't have to give a full $75. You don't even have to sponsor a specific child. But you can make a difference with whatever you give.
You may never see how a foster child's eyes light up when she sees her Christmas presents -- perhaps her first ever -- but knowing that they do is its own reward.
Now for the nuts and bolts.
You can drop off gifts and donations at either UTW's offices -- 1924 E. 6th St. -- or at the old Borders -- 2740 E. 21st St. Drop off dates are Dec. 10 through Dec. 15 from 8:30am to 5:00pm. Please don't wrap your gifts. Christmas for Kids will take care of all that for you.
If you send a check, please make it out to TAPC (Tulsa Advocates for the Protection of Children) -- that's what makes it tax deductible -- and send it to OKDHS/Christmas for Kids, 444 S. Houston Ave., 74127. A receipt will be mailed to you for your tax forms.
If you've ever wondered how Santa delivers all those gifts in one night, it's because he starts early. And so does Christmas for Kids. Distribution will begin on Dec. 17.
If you sponsor a child, please let Christmas for Kids know how many you (or your company or congregation or other group) would like to sponsor.
And if you have any questions, please contact Maura Browne with OKDHS at 918-200-2593. She'll even help arrange to pick your gifts up.
Thank you for your generosity, Tulsa, and Merry Christmas.
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