As we approach Thanksgiving, I want to express my appreciation for everyone who is working to improve the lives of children. I had the opportunity to visit with many of those people in person this week at a community luncheon held by Youth and Family Services, Inc. of El Reno, and it was a great reminder of how lucky we are to have hardworking advocates for children in every corner of the state.
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy’s (OICA) main project during this time of year is to support OK Foster Wishes, a gift drive that helps ensure foster children receive holiday presents. We connect “wish lists” put together by foster kids and their Department of Human Services caseworkers with donors in 60 counties that purchase the presents on these lists (the other 17 counties have their own gift drive programs). OICA and our partner organizations, including DHS, help to get 8,000 children in foster care their own personalized, specially requested holiday gifts.
As of Monday, we had just about 550 wish lists remaining to distribute to donors. If you would like to request a list, please go to okfosterwishes.org and submit your information. You can also help by making a financial contribution to help OICA purchase items for the small percentage of lists that are never filled. This holiday season, we are certainly giving thanks to all the generous individuals who have donated gifts or money to make this effort successful.
We are also thankful this year for a new partnership with the Oklahoma Blood Institute, which is allowing OICA to use their “Share Thanks” mobile app to allow foster families to thank donors directly (and anonymously) for helping provide gifts. This has been a great way to make connections between our community of foster families and the many Oklahomans working to support them. If you are an OK Foster Wishes gift donor, we encourage you to download the app to connect with our foster community.
Finally, as we enter the holiday season, we are thankful for those who work to include OK Foster Wishes into their holiday shopping plans. Please consider taking a wish list and shopping to fill it on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday. Or, do your Cyber Monday shopping on Amazon Smile and use the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy as your charity of choice! And when Giving Tuesday comes around, consider making a donation at oica.org to help us continue our mission. We cannot survive without generous contributions that help us continue our mission all year long to ensure the best policies are implemented for children and programs like OK Foster Wishes thrive.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and thank you for helping the foster youth of Oklahoma!