Program Makes Holidays Brighter For Children
Christmas for Kids is an annual program that provides gifts to children in foster care and group homes.
Foster and adoptive mom Shelley Keefner says Christmas for Kids has been a “miracle” for her daughters Emerald, Cadence, Payten, Madison and Bree.
At any given moment, more than 1,500 children in Tulsa County under age 18 are in the custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. For most of them, the holidays are far from a Hallmark moment.
With generous support from local businesses and individuals, DHS and the nonprofit Tulsa Advocates for the Protection of Children help bring joy to the season through Christmas for Kids, an annual program that provides gifts to children in foster care and group homes.
“Last year, we had over 1,626 children benefit from the program,” says Maura Browne, resource coordinator for Tulsa County Child Welfare.
In October, kids begin compiling wish lists, which are then distributed to community supporters. Some local companies take on hundreds of kids each season, but an individual family might participate by adding a name or two to their own holiday shopping list.
Donations of toys and money that can be used to buy gift cards for older children also are appreciated. Ethnic dolls, sports equipment, action figures, early childhood toys and baby clothes are always in demand.
Much like Santa’s elves, Browne and her crew work tirelessly to ensure a great holiday for all of the children. “Kids fall through the cracks,” she says. “We get new kids coming into custody all the time, so we’ll take things up until the very last minute.”
Tulsan Shelley Keefner’s family has benefited from Christmas for Kids. She and her husband have adopted five girls through OKDHS and are fostering a sixth. “We’ve even received placements days before Christmas, and I call Maura and tell her whether it’s a boy or girl and their age,” Keefner says. “You would not believe the great things they have picked out.”
Help with Christmas for Kids
For more information on sponsoring a child or sending a donation, or to see an Amazon wish list for the most-requested gifts, visit tapchelps.org.
Dec. 10-14: Donors drop off gifts at the former Borders, 2740 E. 21st St., from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Thursday, and 9 a.m.-noon, Friday.
Dec. 17-18: Foster parents pick up gifts.