Key Club Holds Drive for Teens in Foster Care
While some celebrate the holidays with family by passing out gifts at a celebratory dinner, other teens, like those in foster care, aren’t as fortunate.
To help out these teens during the holiday season this year, Key Club organized a drive for the Jefferson County Foster Children’s Fund program (JCFCF), along with NHS, FBLA and STUCO, to collect gift items for the older kids, ages 9-18, in the system throughout the month of November.
Senior Bridget McGinn, vice president of Key Club, said it has been great seeing how the MHS community can come together for a common cause, especially during the holiday season.
“We are focusing on teens and we are teens and they are usually forgotten about it in the foster care system,” McGinn said. “It is really important to show that we care and that they’re not forgotten about.”
McGinn said this is the second year Key Club has organized the drive to JCFCF and last year the drive was so successful, they had to fill up two cars to be able to deliver all the donations.
Donations include anything from blankets and pajamas to cosmetics and board games. McGinn said she herself donated slippers, pajamas, a blanket and a makeup bag.
All the donations will be brought to JCFCF for a Jefferson County Children’s Holiday party that will take place on Friday, Dec. 7, where McGinn will be helping out. She said she was disappointed she couldn’t help out with the party last year since she wasn’t 18 ; however, she is excited to be able to help this year.
“I’m just excited to meet the kids and the teenagers and connect with them and see them open up their gifts,” McGinn said.
Laurie Philipp, Key Club sponsor, said she had the opportunity help out at the party last year and is excited to be doing that again this year. She said that at the party kids go to different stations where they collect a variety of items, such as a blanket and a hat. After the stations they get to pick their present, and that way everyone can get something they know they will enjoy.
The gifts they can choose from are baskets full of different items people have donated. Philipp said last year some of the favorite gifts received were Blues and Cardinals merchandise and cosmetics.
“I get to go to the party and see the kids’ faces light up and it’s just so much fun,” Philipp said. “It is my favorite thing during the holiday season.”
Philipp said if JCFCF gets too many donations they still go to children in the program as birthday presents.
“There’s never too many donations. There is always a need,” Philipp said. “We just try to collect as much as we can. My goal is to have my car filled up as much as I can.”
As of now, Philipp said she has already delivered two boxes of donations. Looking at the donations people have additionally brought in, she said there is probably more than six regular-size boxes worth.
She said Key Club also had the chance to participate in a fundraiser for the Piromania event where they provided a certain amount of volunteers, receiving $500, which the Key Club officers used to shop on Amazon for additional donations to JCFCF.
Jennifer Rawe, secretary and office manager for the Jefferson County Foster Children’s Fund (JCFCF), has been a foster parent along with her husband since 2009, fostering more than 130 children and adopting two. She also works as a certified co-trainer for new foster parents and adoptive parents, as well as, continuing education in trauma training.
“Our goal, as the JCFCF, is to create positive memories and positive experiences for kids who are going through the trauma of foster care,” Rawe said.
A few years ago, a board member saw that the children didn’t have the opportunity to do this during the holiday season and decided to make the holiday party for the children and their foster families to be able to make those memories, Rawe said.
At the party, the children can spend time with their case managers and foster families, Rawe said, while also getting pictures with Santa Clause.
“The other thing is, these kids have no control over their life,” Rawe said. “So they get to choose whatever gifts they want.”
Rawe said that while most people wouldn’t expect a 15-year-old girl to want a Barbie, there might be a girl who has never had a Barbie doll and getting one would be a dream come true.
“A lot of times, kids who are in care might have clothes, but they don’t get to pick their clothes, it’s just what’s given to them and that’s what they are stuck with,” Rawe said. “The goal here is that they get the choice, they get to pick whatever they want to go home with and really just brighten their holidays.”
She said when she was growing up, her family, just like her husband’s, was always welcoming to everyone and anyone which planted the seed of making her family the same way.
“It’s pretty organic for us to be able to include other people into our family,” Rawe said.
She said she could not be more grateful for the MHS community of coming together and making the holidays so special for all the kids in the system.
“I really want [MHS] to have my heartfelt thanks because there are a lot of things that we can’t provide as foster families,” Rawe said. “So to be able to know that you have come together as a student body to make sure some of these kids get the same kind of stuff that you all want is unbelievable and it absolutely makes a difference.”
She said while it may seem like just a game or an article of clothing for anyone else, for these kids in foster care, it means the world.
“They can go to that school with their head held high, knowing that they look good and that they look like their peers and they are not singled out for being so different or to say ‘what I got for Christmas’ is a huge blessing for them,” Rawe said.
The Key Club is still collecting donations until this Friday, Nov. 30.
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Marta Mieze, senior, is the Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Messenger and the Script Editor for MHSNews. She has been on the Messenger staff since 2017 and...