There are approximately 5,200 foster children listed in the databases of Hillsborough Kids Incorporated. Come Christmastime, some of these children will still be living with their foster parents, who may or may not be able to afford gifts for these children.
In order to brighten their holiday, volunteer groups such as the Foster Angels of Hillsborough County have offered foster angel trees to hospitals and universities such as USF.
Volunteer USF is collaborrating with FAHC, and about 25 trees have been put on display across the USF campus. The trees contain paper angel ornaments that display wish lists for area foster children.
The angels list several gift ideas and give a brief description of the child’s age, gender and size. USF students can pick names off trees and turn in wrapped presents at the Volunteer USF office located in the basement of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center.
According to Jason Castles, a graduate student and member of Volunteer USF, Volunteer USF has adopted nearly 950 children this year and will be accepting presents until Dec. 10.
According to Lisa Magual, chief financial officer for the FAHC, this will be the third year the organization will come out to fill up its U-Haul with gifts.
Foster parents then pick up the presents that are organized in boxes by families at the FAHC warehouse.
USF has been a large contributor to the FAHC, Magual said.
“These children that are in foster homes can get upset just because they’re not home,” Magual said. “Getting gifts and stuff brightens their day. What (USF) does really brightens their day.”
According to Carol Compeny, a registered nurse and former foster parent, these types of programs are especially helpful to foster parents who don’t always have a lot of money.
“We’ve even had parents coming in to pick up their presents in tears,” Magual said. “They can’t believe people love their kids enough to buy them presents.”
According to Castles, each year every tag has been taken. Last year, there were 750 tags, but Castle asserted Volunteer USF will make sure this year’s surplus of angel tags gets taken care of.