JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - This Christmas, children will be nestled all snug in their beds.
The Jonesboro Rotary Club held a "PJ Fundraiser" for the Department of Children and Family Services.
On Tuesday, Mischa Martin, Director of Children and Family Services, attended the Jonesboro Rotary Club meeting to collect the donations and tell the rotary members thank you.
"We are so excited," Martin said. "We really value the communities support to help our children in foster care. Across the state we have over 5,200 children in foster care. And we just can not serve the children alone. We really need our community partners to volunteer, to do donation drives and are very appreciative of what the Jonesboro Rotary Club has done."
Martin said there has been an increase in the number of kids in foster care.
"Currently in the state of Arkansas we've had over a 30% increase in children in foster care of the last 18 months," Martin said. "We've been working closely with the Governor for additional support for DCFS, but we really need that additional support from our community partners."
Beverly Parker, Past President of the Rotary Club, said this was the fundraiser that felt right to do this year.
"Each Christmas we do something for the community," Parker said. "This Christmas what we decided to do. . .we already had Mischa Martin coming to speak to us about changes in the foster care program. We know the state has struggled some within the foster care program. And so, our goal was to do something for the local DHS office in terms of helping the children within the foster care program. So, they could not only have a better Christmas, but a better New Year."
"It's amazing," Martin said. "It's amazing that we have partners like the Rotary Club who step up and help us with pajamas and in other ways, too. I mean, these people have gone above and beyond to help our children who have suffered trauma and this is just. . .I have five year olds myself and having pajamas with a fun character is just light and bright and hopefully brings joy to the kids."
Parker said children often have nothing when they leave their homes and go into foster care.
"One of the problems with the foster care program," Parker said. "When children are taken from the homes, many times they are taken with only the clothes on their back. And so, the request came from the DHS office that they needed pajamas. So, it was a great opportunity for us as a club. We took some of our money from what we make at a sports show each year and bought a large number of pajamas from local outlets. We also asked our members to bring a couple of sets of pajamas to add to that."
They gathered around 350 pairs of pajamas.
"it's just wonderful to be able to help foster children," Parker said. "We know this is an area of great need, not only in our county but though out the state. This is a wonderful opportunity to be able to serve our community. And there's no better place that our money could be utilized than to help foster children."
Parker said she hopes this will help lift the spirits of children who aren't home for Christmas this year.
"Our token gift here is a small amount of warmth for children," Parker said. "We would just ask that individuals reach out into the community and provide some service that they can do in terms of some degree of sacrificial giving to make someone's life a little bit better."
"We need foster homes," Martin said. "But we also need volunteers for transportation, filing, just any way you can help the local community office we can use that support."
Volunteer information can be found by clicking here.
Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.