SIDNEY — Several local organizations helped make Christmas extra special this year for foster children in the area.
“As a foster parent recruiter, I’m constantly out in the community talking with organizations, and networking, and things like that. When it comes to this — I am currently looking at our lobby with all these gifts that I’m trying to put name tags on and organize, right — it literally has brought me down to where I am getting teared up just thinking about how amazing our community has been,” Sylvia Roop, foster parent recruiter for SAFY, said.
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. In Miami and Shelby counties, roughly 17 families are served by SAFY.
Last year, SAFY started taking up gift donations from area organizations for the foster children they serve in the area. This year that continued, with organizations having the option to sponser tags on an angel tree. Each tag had information about the foster child and two things they wanted for Christmas as well as two things they needed, and was priced at a $35 minimum. Roughly 140 tags were purchased with some organizations taking up to 40 tags. In the end, over $5,000 in gifts were purchased for foster children in the community.
“I know such a small impact of going to the store of spending $35 — it makes such a bigger impact on these kids,” Roop said. “I always say this, but it takes a village. We try to do items all throughout the year to provide for our youth. Christmas is always that special time of year where people are just in the giving mood and want to help others, and it certainly shows this year.”
Everything from baby dolls to legos to bicycles were donated, in addition to essentials such as socks, coats, clothes and hygiene items. According to Roop, she had to reach out to several children because they had listed what they needed for Christmas, but not what they wanted.
“A lot of the kids, it’s easy for them to put down what they need. I really had to pull at them items that they wanted because they didn’t realize that they could ask for a bike. They didn’t realize they could ask for a baby doll. They didn’t realize these things. I definitely encouraged them to tell me what they wanted so I could get it down on the tag, but I found that very common in a lot of these youths,” Roop said.
Organizations that donated gifts to foster children served by SAFY include the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA, Fort Loramie High School, Tipp City Church of Nazarene, America Manufacturing Solutions, Cargill (St. Marys branch), New Breman/New Knoxville Rotary Club, Ron Spencer Real Estate, Girl Scout Troop 20055, as well as several donations from individuals in the community.
“They made a bigger impact on their community, on the youth that we serve, than they will ever recognize. I know for a lot of them, it’s easy for them to go to the store and purchase something. They don’t get to see the joy in the child’s eyes when we say ‘someone picked this out for you’,” Roop said. “It’s amazing that people in the community want to help in this type of way.”
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