Let’s make this holiday season special for foster children

These stuffed animals were waiting for foster children to claim in an earlier Furries4Fosters event. Those looking to get donate can contact junior Aaliyah Tournier.

Furries4Fosters is an organization that I started in the seventh grade as a 13t-year-old kid. Four years ago I never thought that my organization would be as big as it is now.

I got the idea to start this by the six foster kids that had come through my house and their love for blankets and stuffed animals. 

I always get asked the question, “Why blankets, and why stuffed animals?” 

These kids get taken out of their homes anytime day or night. They leave with the clothes on their backs. 

 I chose these items because as foster kids go to their new placements, they are able to have something to take with them everywhere they go whether it’s a new placement or going back to their parents. 

I also chose these items because to these kids having a blanket and or stuffed animal makes them feel safe and secure. They always have something that is their own.

The winter time is one of the busiest times of the year for my organization. I have two huge events that always happened in December: Kadens Kloset and A Foster Care Christmas Party. 

Almost 1,000 people go to those two events, and I have to gather almost 800 stuffed animals and blankets. 

The first event I always have in the winter is Kaden’s Kloset, which is an event where parents register to go shop for their kids while the kids are doing activities. 

Lots of volunteers provide donations for the parents to shop while the kids make homemade crafts.

The volunteers also help at the event in some way. Some of the jobs are personal shoppers, which are people who help the parents shop for their kids. Some help wrap the foster kids’ presents, and some transport the kids to the room they will be doing all the crafts in, and then some help kids with the crafts and watch them.

 During that time the parents shop for pajamas, school clothes, Christmas presents, socks, shoes, toothbrushes, toothpaste and a lot of everyday essentials that the foster kids might not have.

 While their parents are shopping, these kids go into a different room of the building to do fun activities like frost cookies, color, play Bingo, go to multiple crafts where they can build Christmas ornaments, and they are also able to see Santa, which is a big thing for these kids.

The other event is a foster care Christmas potlock. People bring food everyone eats together. The kids can play a ton of games, get to see Santa, get presents and also get stuffed animals and blankets.  What happens first at this event is everyone eats, and in shifts these kids will be able to come get their presents, and then they will be able to pick out a stuffed animal and blanket. 

I have done these events for about three years now, and I always look forward to it every time winter comes around.

So many memories stand out. In my second year, I worked Kaden’s Kloset, I transported a lot of kids to the area where they were playing. While I was doing this I saw a little girl who didn’t look very happy. She kept saying to me, “I miss my mom. I miss my mom,” and so I picked her up and I held her. 

When my mom told me that I needed to come back and transfer more kids, this little girl would not let me go, so I spent the rest of the day holding that little girl while transporting other kids, and finally when I had to leave and her parents came and got her, she gave me a humongous hug and the biggest smile I had ever seen.

That is one of my most precious memories because I always think these kids are so amazing, so sweet, but I never get to see them and to be able to see how amazingly great they are. I will just never be able to forget those moments.

Another amazing moment I have is the first year that I worked the foster care Christmas party.  There was this adorable little girl who was eyeing this humongous penguin that I had, and I could overhear her talking to her dad saying, “Daddy, I want that penguin really really bad.” 

She kept coming up to my table just looking at it for so long. When the people in charge of the party finally told the kids that they could come up to the line and grab a stuffed animal and blanket, that little girl ran as fast as she could and snatched that humongous penguin that  was four times her size off of that table, and she ran to her dad and screamed, “I got it! I got it!”

If you are interested in creating your own memories, you can donate a new stuffed animal or blanket to Furries4Fosters at 1109 Parkway Avenue or contact me at the high school at 21aaltou@student.cfschools.org.

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