MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – The holiday season is upon us and these are times that can be extremely difficult for many foster children.
Some children may be faced with the realization that they will not be home for the holidays with their biological family members. However, Youth Villages has a program called Holiday Heroes aimed at giving hundreds of kids some joy in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
“To see their face on Christmas morning opening those gifts that the Holiday Heroes have donated to them, it’s been great to see that joy from the children,” said Chinishe Ray, who adopted brothers from Youth Villages.
Ray says this holiday season is a special one. Brothers Kaleb and Kobe are finally in her care after their adoptions were finalized a few months ago.
“It’s been a long road. It’s been three years and they were with me for quite some time before we finalized the adoption,” Ray explained.
One event the brothers always look forward to while in foster care is Youth Villages’ Holiday Heroes Program.
“Individual families who decide they want to sponsor a young person, they are able to come out – they get a wish list and our young people are able to say on that list – indicate some of the things that they would like to receive,” said Nicole Fannin, Executive Director of Residential Services for Youth Villages.
Ray says the program is definitely a help during the season.
“They’re separated from their families and so just to have that special toy. They get what they want on the list, is one thing that will help them through the holidays,” Ray stressed.
The kids already have their lists prepared.
Kaleb Ray says he wants a drone and games like Sonic, Racing Game, Super Mario Odyssey, and Super Mario Rabbit Kingdom. His brother Kobe wants a basketball goal and the movie Black Panther.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Santa will pass out those gifts bought by families, organizations, and volunteers to the kids during holiday parties.
“They’re just laughing and they’re happy and all of the things they’ve been worried about all year long are muted for that moment,” Fannin said.
Holiday Heroes has been in existence for 10 years and have helped 12,000 foster kids. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or part of an organization that would like to help, visit www.youthvillages.org. The deadline is December 16, 2019.