Dec. 11, 2013. Local residents are coming together over the next two weeks to collect toys, gift cards and cash to bring Christmas to children in the foster care system in the High Country. Lynne Lear, a High Country resident, is heading the effort in Boone, Banner Elk, Blowing Rock and West Jefferson.
“These children have already suffered abuse or neglect or both and the idea of them being forgotten during the holidays, when they are already away from their families, is heartbreaking,” says Lear. “Many of them have never even heard of Christmas or Santa, but the saddest ones are those who are aware but have never gotten a gift.”
There will be several live music events connected to the drive. Melissa Reaves’ Annual Christmas Show at Char tonight at 7 p.m. will kick off the drive in Boone. A holiday show featuring Hope Harvey and Friends will take place at Zuzda in Banner Elk on Thursday, Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. with admission being an unwrapped toy or gift card.
Heather Bender, Foster Care Case Manager at Grandfather Home for Children said “the needs of these children really run the gamut. There are younger children desperately in need of speech development toys, older children who would love to have a book and kids who just need clothes and shoes that actually fit.”
“How great would it be to be able to fit these needs and also give them a toy?” adds Lear. “The gift cards for clothing or books or toys are a great idea because we can use them to purchase what a child specifically needs. But the value in having your own child pick out a toy for another child who would otherwise not have Christmas (or Hannukah or Kwanza) is immeasurable. We will be thrilled to accept donations in any form!”
Grandfather Home for Children is the primary program in the area that is separate from the Department of Social Services and runs on private donations. While the home offers residential treatment for abuse to children ages 13 to 17, many in the High Country are unaware that they run a separate foster care program that cares for children from newborn to adulthood. “It is these children for which this toy drive was conceived,” said Lear. “Other similar programs in the area will benefit from the toy/gift card drive as well.”
While collections will be made at the upcoming shows, there are also drop off spots around the High Country:
- Peabody’s Wine and Beer, Boone
- Erick’s Cheese and Wine, Banner Elk
- Painted Fish Café, Banner Elk
- Blowing Rock Market, Blowing Rock
- Christopher’s Wine and Cheese, Blowing Rock
- Carolina Country Wines, West Jefferson
Lear also told High Country Press that she hopes the response will be good enough to also distribute some toys and gifts to children at Hospitality House and Oasis.
“We are trying to help make certain that all children in the High Country are remembered this holiday season. Separated from parents for terrible reasons, homeless, abused, neglected. These kids have already seen enough and deserve some brightness and hope.”
Grandfather Home for Children CEO Jim Swinkola adds, “I have heard the children under the ministry of Grandfather Home comment with amazement when a complete stranger loves them enough to give a gift at Christmas time. Such acts of kindness help fill the void of feeling alone and unwanted.”
Items and cash donations can be dropped off at any of the above locations through Monday, Dec. 23. For further information or to donate, contact Lynne Lear at 423.794.8825.