• 54°

DSS seeks to provide Merry Christmas for kids in foster care

Going into the holiday season this year, there are a total of 126 children in foster care in Beaufort County, and the staff at the Beaufort County Department of Social Services wants to make sure each one has a Merry Christmas.

The agency is off to a strong start on providing for the holiday needs and wishes of these local children, with 93 of the 126 kids already sponsored by generous donations from individuals and churches throughout the area. Currently, there are still 33 kids who still need sponsors.

“That’s a lot of kids who have been sponsored, but we still have a good amount left that we need to get sponsored,” said Beaufort County DSS Social Work Supervisor Karen Chrismon. “There has never been a year that we didn’t get all of our kids sponsored. There are a lot of church groups and a lot of individual people that will come back year after year and sponsor the children. The people in the community do a really good job of getting the gifts the kids are asking for.”

Chrismon says the need this year is greater than before, however, as there are currently more children in foster care than at any other time in recent memory in Beaufort County. In large part, she says this spike can be directly tied to a rising tide of drug abuse.

“We generally have between 85 and 105 kids in foster care, usually not going over 100,” Chrismon said. “This year, we’ve had a much higher number of kids in care than we’ve ever had.”

At the heart of the effort, community volunteer Lauren Riddick is the contact point for connecting volunteers with the children who need gifts for Christmas. When someone chooses to sponsor a child, Riddick provides them with a shopping list of both needed items and wishes from the child. It generally costs between $150 and $200 each to sponsor one child.

“A lot of individuals call and take a name,” Riddick said. “A lot of churches, Sunday School Classes and youth groups will call and take a name or two and shop for (the kids) with their groups. We’ve got a lot of participation from the churches, community groups and offices. We’re working desperately to get all of them taken care of.”

For those interested in helping a foster child have a happy holiday, there are two ways to do so. To receive a wish list to shop for a child, contact Riddick at 252-943-5643. Financial donations supporting the effort can also be made by mailing a check to the Kiwanis Special Youth Fund, P.O. Box 2711, Washington, NC 27889.