I love this time of year. I love the decorations, the traditions and I even love the craziness of having the kids home for 2 weeks. I also love helping out with gift and toy drives for kids who need it! We started picking an angel tree child when Trey was young and we would try to pick out a child close to his age so he could help us. I loved doing that, but I didn't fully understand what I was doing. For instance, I wanted the list to have things I thought they should want/need. I totally understood buying shirts and pants and would have lots of sympathy for those lists that said underwear and coats. I got that. I could do that.
Then, we moved to Pulaski County, started fostering and our church began to do a gift drive alongside DCFS last year. I was able to talk with the caseworker and understand their lists a little more. For instance, some of these kids have no idea what a wish list is?? Even further they have no idea what to list. They may put clothes or they may know that everyone in their class has an iPod, except them, so they put that. They may put very basic, very generic items because the thought of a stranger actually buying them things they would want, well that's too much to consider. What people don't realize is that the caseworker will sometimes add fun items for the child because the child would never do that.
Last year, we thought we might get both girls sometime in December but we weren't sure because they were looking for a different placement. Then, 8 days before Christmas, they both moved in with us. There wasn't a 9 month prep period to prepare for a new child around Christmas, but yet Christmas was going on. Now, thankfully, I would've been able to buy presents for the girls to open at Christmas or my family and friends would've stepped in, but they didn't have to! Churches around LR had done that for me. When the girls were dropped off, their caseworker came loaded with gifts. I could focus more on the terrified 9 month old and less on presents.
Now here is where I think we sometimes have a hard time....imagine my delight when all these boxes weren't filled with diapers and wipes. Several boxes were filled with clothes (and for that I was grateful) but there were also dolls, and infant toys, and a huge Lalaloopsy doll house that made my jaw drop!! Sometimes I think we look at these lists and we think...."seriously, this child had the audacity to ask for an iPod or Nintendo and they can't even afford clothes?" It's in that moment we get all self righteous all the while buying an X-Box for our bio kids. I am so thankful people took the time last year to buy a 9 month old and 1 year old baby dolls, huge ride on toys, doll house and other items Addison would've loved as well!! It made it less awkward for them to open some fun items (along with necessities of course) while Trey and Addison were opening their fun items as well. And the reality is, my girls wouldn't have known, but imagine a 12 year old in a foster home??
As someone on both sides of the gift list....buying and receiving.....just be sensitive. Buy things they need but don't be a scrooge when it comes to those things every kid would love as well. Sometimes we think less fortunate means less deserving and that's not true at all. My girls deserved everything they got last year and then some.