Businesses step up to help foster kids for Christmas

By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist

As our community gears up for Christmas giving, the Shelby County Foster Parents Association wants locals to remember the nearly 150 children in foster care in Shelby County. They, along with partners all over the area have taken steps to ensure that these kids have a great Christmas.
Amanda Manzanilla, president of this association of volunteers, told us that their organization exists to support children and families formerly, currently and at risk of being in foster care.

“We offer aid to reunified families and situations where the extended family has stepped in to help too,” she said. When restoration is possible they seek to support it.

Of the Shelby County children that are in care, nearly one-third of them are older tweens and teens that often get overlooked during the holidays. That’s where the associations “Angel Tree” program comes in.

All over Shelby County, businesses like Calera Orthodontics and Columbiana Clinic will be hosting Angel Trees where members of the community can pick up keepsake ornaments that have a Christmas wish attached from a teen foster child or even for kids that have recently aged out of the foster system. Locals who choose to fulfill a wish can purchase the item and then bring them back to the business they picked it up from unwrapped by Dec. 9.

Dr. Brittney Reid of Calera Orthodontics told us why she wanted her business to host a tree when we visited her office for the hanging of the ornaments.

“We think all kids deserve the same opportunities because they are all image-bearers of God,” she said.
The Shelby County Foster Parents Association aids families in multiple ways when needs arise.

They recently acquired a building they call “The Hangar” that helps them meet the needs of families struggling not just to foster, but in many cases also reunify.

It provides storage space where they can keep supplies for children coming into the system, or for families suddenly taking in an extended family member on short notice.

Kids aging out of the system sometimes find what they need among donations to set off on their own too.
“We just try to cover them with love and help them get what they need,” volunteer Jenny McNeal told us.
If you’d like to fulfill an Angel Tree wish, you can find trees at the following local businesses around Shelby County: Calera Orthodontics, Alabama Furniture Mart in Calera, Columbiana Clinic, Keller Williams of Alabaster and Ground Strike Grappling in Columbiana.
You can also find more information about the Shelby County Foster Parent Association and their other Christmas programs like their youth Christmas Stocking program by following their Facebook page by the same name.