By Judy Fischer Wollack, president of the Association of Accredited Child & Family Agencies
Many children look forward to the holidays, counting down the days until Santa Claus fills the living room with toys and other presents.
For children in the child welfare system, this time of year can be extremely difficult if they do not have a place to call home and they go without needed essentials and gifts at Christmas.
Each year, the member organizations that make up the Association of Accredited Child and Family Agencies work hard to ensure the children and families in our care have some holiday cheer.
From adopting families to hosting holiday parties, our member organizations gave children in their care a holiday season to remember.
Here are just a few of the ways our members are helping children and families enjoy the holiday season:
- Ennis Center for Children in southeast Michigan holds a holiday party each season for children in its foster programs. The parties take place in Genesee, Oakland, St. Clair and Wayne counties, and they provide dinner, gift bags, crafts and photos with Santa. Ennis Center also participates in Adopt A Family and donates holiday baskets of food.
- Each year, Oakland Family Services participates in Adopt A Family, identifying families it serves who could use help giving holiday gifts and essentials to their children. In 2020, donors provided gift cards to more than 700 children from nearly 300 families in need. This year, Oakland Family Services continued Adopt A Family, as well as accepted donations to its Adopt A Family Fund, which the agency uses to purchase gift cards for families that are not able to be matched with a donor.
- At Orchards Children’s Services, staff helps bring the magic of the holidays for children and families in need through its Holiday Food and Toy Drive and Adopt A Family program. Food and toy collection continued throughout October, November and December.
While giving is amped up during the holidays, these are just some of the ways AACFA member organizations serve Michigan’s children and families year-round, especially during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
Our member organizations are helping Michigan’s children and families as much as we can through this crisis and beyond COVID-19. Year round, our member organizations provide a myriad of services to children and families to help them get mental health support, obtain trauma resources, adopt and foster children and more.
I encourage everyone to think about how they can make a difference in the lives of children and families in need this holiday season. Even the smallest donation or gift of an essential item or toy can make the biggest difference.