Spreading Christmas cheer to Canadian County foster kids

Supporters enlisted to help ‘light up’ faces of 325 youth

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Ann Parkhurst, supervisor at Oklahoma Human Services in Canadian County, encourages individuals, businesses, churches, and civic groups to sponsor Canadian County foster children and teens for Christmas. The Children’s Christmas Committee at Canadian County Child Welfare is seeking new, unwrapped toys and gift cards for about 325 foster youth and children in need. (Photo provided)

By Conrad Dudderar
Senior Staff Writer

Canadian County’s foster children are again counting on the public’s help to have a bright Christmas.

The Children’s Christmas Committee at Canadian County Child Welfare is seeking supporters to help about 325 foster youth and children in need see the magic of Christmas. New, unwrapped toys and gift cards are welcome.

“This is the best time of year and the busiest,” said Ann Parkhurst, supervisor at Oklahoma Human Services in Canadian County. “It is so rewarding to get to see all of the Christmas spirit from all sides.

“I get to see my sponsors’ faces light up when they bring us the gifts after they shopped for that one special toy for that specific child and found it. Or they were able to get every item on the list.”

Of immediate need right now are sponsors – individuals, families, church groups, and businesses.

“You can help by getting an actual ‘wish list’ from one of our kids, you can have a toy drive or get gift cards,” Parkhurst explained. “We need toy drives to put toys on our shelves so that we have them for kids that come in later.”

Wish lists will be ready to distribute in early November.

Toy cars, Barbie dolls, trucks, action figures, books, and games are especially welcome.

The faces of Canadian County’s children in need really light up when they get to enter the “Christmas Room” to pick out toys, according to Parkhurst.

“It just makes the worst day of their lives a little happier when they get a toy,” she said. “People love to buy for the younger children but not as many for our older kids.”

So, the Children’s Christmas Committee loves to receive items for teenagers like: Hoodies, shirts, jewelry, tennis shoes, make-up, jewelry, perfume, socks, pajamas, sporting equipment and hats, and arts and crafts supplies.

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IT’S SO REWARDING

Canadian County Child Welfare has seen an increase in need with all that’s happened in 2020.

“We’re just so blessed to have such great sponsors wanting to give so much of their time and money for our kids,” Parkhurst shared. “It is also so rewarding to see all of our workers get so excited to see all of their kids have such a wonderful Christmas.”

Canadian County Child Welfare workers take the donated gifts to foster homes knowing the children will have a good Christmas.

“We know the stories behind our kids and know that this may be their first Christmas to have a ‘wish list’, let alone get something they really wanted for Christmas,” Parkhurst noted. “It is also so rewarding to help our foster parents … they are the glue that holds Child Welfare together. They are there 24/7; they are the ones giving everything they have to our kids trying to make life just a little easier for our kids and their families.”

Parents in most foster homes have children of their own – then one to four foster children.
“So, it is important to help foster homes with Christmas,” Parkhurst said. “It is a lot to take on for a family.”

Any leftover gift donations are used year-round for children’s birthdays.

To help contribute to the Canadian County Foster Kids Christmas Program, contact Parkhurst at (405) 590-5185 or ann.parkhurst@okdhs.org