With the help of the community, Voices for Children provided Christmas presents for 97 children in foster care within Jefferson and Lincoln counties through the Fostering Christmas program, which concluded on Dec. 17, according to a news release issued on Friday.

The agency enlisted the help of local businesses, church groups, civic clubs and other community members to either donate monetarily or sponsor a child by purchasing gifts from their wish list.

“The presents our sponsors purchase for our children are typically the only Christmas presents they receive. Our goal for this event is to ensure every child in foster care within Jefferson and Lincoln counties has a very Merry Christmas. Without the help of the community, we wouldn’t have made that happen,” said Sherri Neikirk, executive director of Voices for Children.

Once the toys were purchased for each child, sponsors dropped the gifts off at the agency’s office for the staff to inventory each item. Then, the Department of Human Services’ Family Services Workers and CASA volunteers deliver the gifts to each child at their placement.

“The agency’s office was filled with so many toys that you could hardly walk in the door. By the time all of the gifts were in you had to step over bicycles, doll houses, basketballs, and other toys to get anywhere,” according to the news release.

Voices for Children thanks sponsors, including Family Church members, Pine Bluff Kiwanis Club, Lions Club of White Hall, R.B. Stinson Farm of Dumas, White Hall United Pentecostal Church, Pine Bluff Dental Clinic, Sleep Management Services, Dr. Roy Coleman and the White Hall Family Medicine staff, Bryan Achorn and family, First Baptist Church White Hall members, Simmons Wealth Management, Watson Chapel Baptist Church members, Central Moloney, White Hall High School’s Future Business Leaders of America club, Voices for Children Board of Directors and Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers, Pine Bluff Chamber Red Coats, and the many individuals who sponsored a child.

Voices for Children is non-profit, child welfare organization in Jefferson and Lincoln counties that trains and equips Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers from the community to advocate for abused and neglected children in foster care throughout the court process. Our CASA’s gather important information on their assigned case, monitor adherence to court orders, and provide fact-based recommendations to the court. CASA’s also maintain a collaborative relationship between all parties on the case to move the child into a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible.

The next training class to become a CASA volunteer begins on Tuesday, Feb.12. Contact Tori Reap at tori.reap@vfcadvocates.org or 870-536-5922 for an application or for more information.