TAMPA, Fla. — Local foster moms are shopping for presents for nearly 400 children in the foster care system.
"Christmas for Fosters" started in 2017. The program allows people to sponsor a child and reduce the financial burden Christmas may create for foster families.
"Some kids that we get, this is the first time that they’ve experienced Christmas in the more traditional way like a tree and Christmas morning so it means a lot to them to see the gifts and just experience the magic and joy of Christmas and being a child," said Christina Eben, a foster mother.
Sarah Weaver is the founder of "Christmas for Fosters." Weaver and her husband became foster parents in 2016. Two years later, the couple adopted three children.
"We adopted our very first placement of two little boys and then later adopted their sister as well," said Weaver.
The program is expected to help more than 400 children in the foster care system this year. Families may sign up to sponsor a child. They will receive information on the child's hobbies, clothing size and items on their wish list.
"We have a huge need for gaming systems, hoverboards. We have needs for bikes for smaller kids like toddlers and younger elementary children all the way to teenager bikes," said Weaver.
People may also make a monetary donation which allows a group of foster moms to shop for the children.
"They can go online to ChristmasforFosters.com. It will give them the option of becoming a sponsor of a child. They can also shop from wish lists if they don’t want to fully sponsor a kid and then they can also do monetary donations to allow us to do the shopping for them," explained Weaver.
The program sponsored 97 children during its first year in 2017. Every year, the program has grown. In 2020, more than 477 children were sponsored. This year, the goal is to help more than 400 children. At least 50 more sponsors are still needed.
"We try really hard to work with our sponsors and our team to get the gifts that the children have wanted specifically so Christmas morning, they’re opening their gifts and it's a blessing to the foster families as well," said Liz Aguero with "Christmas for Fosters."
Every child sponsored receives necessities like an outfit, socks, shoes, pajamas and 2-3 items off their wish list.
"Sponsor sign-up deadline is Dec. 1 and then we need the items by Dec. 6 and after that, we could use monetary donations and our team could go shopping for you or we have the wish lists, Target, Walmart and Amazon wish lists," said Aguero.
"It’s a need that’s there and seeing people that actually step up to fill that need is huge," added Eben.
For more information on the program visit: https://www.christmasforfosters.com.