During September, Sampson County’s Department of Social Services is preparing to make sure children will have a merry Christmas.
Last year, DSS distributed gifts to about 130 youths in its program. In 2016, Lynn Fields, DSS social work program manager for adult and children services, and others will continue the mission.
“Christmas should be about giving and not receiving,” Fields said. “This is the perfect opportunity for the community to come together and help those who are less fortunate.”
Department officials plan to begin the effort in September by mailing letters to churches, businesses, civic groups and schools about the Sampson County Foster Care Christmas Party in mid-December. Another purpose is to get community members involved with the donation process.
“That letter will let them know how they can contribute,” Fields said about buying gifts for needy children. “They can call us and adopt a child or they can adopt several children.”
Selected donors will receive information about the child’s age, gender, clothing sizes and wish-list items. Next, the volunteers would purchase the items and bring it to the DSS office. Gifts will be distributed to foster parents at the upcoming Christmas party
“They will be given to the children on Christmas morning, Fields said.
Fields said there’s another option for businesses to mail checks or money for needs.
“We also had people bring in gift cards to be used to purchase items for the children and for some of the older children, we would actually give them some gift cards,” she said.
“Last year, we had several different companies and groups that pitched in,” Fields said. “Last year was a wonderful Christmas Party because we had so much community support. It was amazing, so we’re looking for this year to be even better.”
“We had a lot of support from the community last year,” Fields said.
One of the local organizations helping with the effort is the Lakewood Country Club through the “Holiday Hope” program, which distributes toys to children in need. It was created in 2015 by Lynn Pritchard. Donated gifts will be taken to DSS.
“Last year, when (Holiday Hope) had its Christmas party, it was amazing,” she said. “They brought in brand new bicycles and really nice toys that we could give to these children. It was awesome last year what they did.”
For more information about donations or to volunteer, contact the Sampson County Social Services office at 910-592-7131.
“I think it’s amazing that the community can come together to support these children who many not be able to have a nice Christmas otherwise,” Fields said. “I think Christmas is a nice time to open up your heart to help those who are less fortunate than you.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.