It happens every year. Every year for eight years. So why would I expect any different this ninth year of being involved in holiday giving projects?
Today was the day. It was late in the year, but I wasn’t surprised.
It was the call from the parent of young adolescents (11 and 14) seeking help for the holidays. She surfed the web and saw the links I posted on another site about adopting a family for the holidays. We were talking about providing a holiday meal for an entire family. She knew before I took a breath that my response was going to be “I’m sorry, but we don’t …”
They always know, these parents of older kids. That’s why I got so invested in gift cards when I worked in foster care. They were perfect gifts for older kids. Kids who are, after all, still kids and usually struggling along with the other family members to cope with the family chaos that poverty brings. It may be romantic to have a Cabbage Patch doll for your 5 year old, but imagine having to turn to your 15 year old – the one who babysits, who does her homework, cooks when you work your second job or go to your meetings – and have … nothing.
I’d say six years ago I kicked gift card recruitment into high gear and it was always great. The Giant Eagle double fuelperks didn’t hurt.
But I was limited to whom I could give those cards. Clients. Not folks on their own floating around without supports, without an anchor, without a clue … not until they fell further into the abyss of poverty and got “connected.” Even then it might still only be presents for younger kids.
I really wish there would be an organization to provide gifts for teens. Cool gifts, not CD players. Seriously, there are lots of good kids, not so good kids and kids who struggle mightily. They are still our children.
I don’t have much in the way of information to offer.
I suggest visiting the United Way’s HelpLine.
Contact churches and faith based organizations in your area.
I know that’s not much help. I know. It breaks my heart that I don’t have a better answer for you.