NORMAN — Members of the Citizens Advisory Board of Cleveland County Child Welfare Unit Inc. are calling all local Santa Clauses to help area foster children have a bright and merry Christmas.
In it’s 22nd year, the Secret Santa program list was released last week and is available for those interested in purchasing Christmas gifts for children that have been placed in foster care. The gifts will later be delivered to children that are away from their birth parents on Christmas Day. When the local Santas call, they can pick a child based on age or based on the amount they want to spend. The wish list dollar guidelines per child for 2012 are ages: 0-2, $50; 3-4, $75; 5-10, $100; and 11-18, $125.
The idea of giving Christmas gifts to foster children was born a few years ago from a couple who worked for a bank in Moore that were foster parents. One Christmas, the couple recruited their bank to provide Christmas gifts for the foster care program in Cleveland County.
The couple then moved, but it was obvious that the program had to continue. CAB was formed in 1989 when Sue Durrett, co-founder of C.A.B., along with Jackie Williams, began its mission. Durrett and Williams started working with different companies and people in the community to help provide a Christmas for, at that time, 69 children.
“Last year, we helped 642 kids and I’m estimating about 550 this year,” CAB Public Relations Officer Nyky Wilson said.
The idea of CAB is to help foster families in need. If a child is placed in need, CAB will give money to help the family buy essentials like diapers, a crib or formula. Most of the funding for CAB comes from the annual Coach’s Luncheon. This year the luncheon raised more than $70,000.
“Our request in the other program range have gotten so huge that we have a lot of our funds going that way. As an example, with the fires this past year we had multiple families that were affected that we helped with new clothes for the kids maybe a certificate to Walmart to get toiletries,” Wilson said. “With the Secret Santa program, that used to be our main focus on where we spent our money. But with all the other needs that have occurred and the fact that we are the only county in Oklahoma that has a program like this, we are really looking for Secret Santa to run itself through the community with people shopping for the kids and us being able to use those funds that we raised through the Coaches Luncheon on the special needs program.”