KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE)– Childhelp Tennessee is asking the community to help make Christmas special for foster kids.
Childhelp Tennessee is a child advocacy center and fostering agency.
Lawren Ramos, executive director of ChildHelp Tennessee, said the nonprofit is one of the first places a child goes if there’s been a verified report of abuse or neglect.
A child can be medically examined, interviewed for law enforcement and receive mental health services at Childhelp.
Childhelp also finds foster family placement for the children.
Within one year, Childhelp sees at least 1,000 kids for either forensic interviews or mental health services, and that number continues to grow.
COVID-19 hasn’t helped, Ramos said.
They had to cancel two of their biggest fundraisers, and how they can interact with kids has changed.
“This year, because of COVID, it’s definitely a more important time that we really help our kids have a normal experience as much as we can. You know, a lot has changed in their lives,” Ramos said.
For the second year, Childhelp staff is working to make sure Christmas is special for their foster kids, through Santa’s Childhelpers.
“Our kids have never been able to dream or wish what they want for Christmas, so right now we’re in the phase where they’re just dreaming of what they want for Christmas. What do they want to see under their Christmas tree,” Ramos said.
Ramos said once the kids send their wish lists, Childhelp will send those to community members willing to donate gifts.
Then volunteers wrap those gifts for the children and the caregivers, foster parents and parents will hand gift them to the children.
“We’re really big on making sure our foster parents, and our parents and our caregivers can give those gifts to those kids. And to really strengthen that bond and relationship to help them continue to heal and continue to just have hope in the future,” Ramos said.
Last year, Childhelp Tennessee was able to make Christmas special with gifts for about 100 kids, plus a few families in the community who needed help to do the same for their kids.
Ramos said he hopes they can bring the Christmas spirit to even more families this year.
To participate in Santa’s Childhelpers, email email@example.com, or call 865-637-1753.
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