Thursday, Jan 1, 2015
The Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Tampa Bay provides for the needs of children in the Guardian ad Litem Program in Pinellas and Pasco Counties. The holidays should be a special time for every child, and each year the Guardian ad Litem Foundation, along with generous corporate partners and individual sponsors, organizes a holiday gift drive to meet this need.
Children are chosen by their volunteer child advocate based on the economic need of the family or their residential placement. This year the need was greater than ever-we had over 1,000 children that needed assistance to make their holidays brighter. After successfully securing sponsors for over 900 wish lists, we learned that over 100 children had come into care after our holiday gift drive was complete. As we were making arrangements for these late sheltered children, we walked into the office one day to find thousands of toys donated by a local 3rd grade student from Curlew Creek Elementary, Emily.
I called to thank Emily for the much needed last minute assistance and asked her mother how Emily chose to support the Guardian ad Litem Foundation and this is her story.
Emily longed for a sibling and would often ask her mother about having a brother or sister. Emily’s mother explained that there are many children in care that need fostering or adopting and this may be the best way for their family to grow in the long term. These discussions led to much interest from Emily and prompted other topics like why children end up in foster care and how sometimes it is best for children to form a “new” family because of safety issues.
Emily is in the gifted program and needed to choose a project to benefit the community. She went to her school counselor and asked how she could be a “foster friend” to another child at school. She then learned about confidentiality but was undeterred in her goal of assisting foster children. Her teacher is the daughter of a Guardian ad Litem volunteer and suggested she work with the Foundation. Emily’s toy drive was a huge success (and a life saver for us!) We are looking forward to working with Emily for many years to come and we hope one day she gets her Christmas wish-a sibling that needs a forever family.
Because of Emily and the generous donors she inspired, over 100 children were provided with holiday gifts during one of their neediest times. Thank you, Emily and Curlew Creek Elementary!