SIDNEY — For the third year in a row, area businesses and community members pulled together to donate Christmas presents to SAFY for their annual toy drive.
For Foster Parent Recruiter Sylvia Roop, it’s nothing short of a Christmas miracle.
“I thought maybe, because last year was so overwhelming with the pandemic, I just put it into perspective that people wanted to help because that was the type of year this world has had. I didn’t expect as much this year, but that was not the case,” Roop said. “I know it’s just so cliché, but to have a complete stranger spend their hard-earned money on a kid that they’ve never met and are never going to meet is just baffling.”
SAFY is a non-profit foster care agency that recruits, trains and licenses foster parents in the area. In addition to this, SAFY offers on-site mental health services to the children they place in foster homes, which includes trauma healing, parent skills building, school success mentoring, and teaching coping skills. SAFY’s Sidney location currently works with foster families in Shelby, Miami, Auglaize, Mercer, Logan, Champaign and Darke counties.
Many area businesses and organizations had Angel Trees set up with each angel containing information about the child that would receive gifts, such as their age, gender, favorites such as color, two things they want for Christmas, and two things they need. While SAFY asked for a $40 minimum donation for gifts, Roop said that many who donated went above and beyond to provide a memorable Christmas for the children and foster families SAFY serves.
“Some of these kids were getting scooters, and bicycles, and tablets and just amazing, amazing gifts,” Roop said.
Roop said that many of the items kids put down as necessities were things like socks, underwear, pajamas, snow boots, coats and more. She added that the businesses and organizations that took the time to host Angel Trees get their entire business or organization involved in the process of donating gifts. Tipp City Church of the Nazarene and the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA were two entities that went all out for the toy drive this year, according to Roop.
“It’s not just one person here and there. It’s a whole group of people wanting to make the world just a little bit better for these children that are in foster care. Everything that they buy for a specific child, it goes directly to that child, and I just think that’s truly amazing, how a community can come together and make that happen,” Roop said. “It’s truly heartfelt how the community can come together for people they’ve never met.”
The generosity of the community couldn’t have come at a better time, in Roop’s eyes. SAFY is currently experiencing a shortage in foster parents able to take in foster children in the area, and Roop said that by having Angel Trees in local businesses and organizations, not only are foster youth receiving Christmas gifts, but SAFY’s mission to serve foster youth and train foster parents is being spread more widely.
“They’re helping in more than just one way,” Roop said. “Every little bit helps.”
The present pick-up for foster parents was held Monday, Dec. 20 during the day so families could retrieve the gifts and be able to surprise their foster children on Christmas morning.
“The expressions on their faces said it all, of how thankful they were, and how outstanding the community did themselves again,” Roop said.
Roop added that up to the days before Christmas, she was contacting families as foster youth came her way to get them a home to stay in through Christmas. She contacted people in the community with last minute tags for the toy drive, and said that not a single child went without a Christmas present to unwrap this year.
“There was not one tag that did not get adopted, and I think that’s truly remarkable, knowing that these kids are in a new place and in a new home for the holidays, but the one thing I think we can all come together and say is very familiar, is seeing a gift under the tree, marked with their name on it,” Roop said.