Sara Nisinger, chair of the Junior League Foster Care Awareness Committee, tells a group assembled at the Lily Pad Friday, including children connected to the Albany Jack and Jill of America chapter, of her story as a foster child. Several organizations, including the Jack and Jill club, donated Christmas gifts to area foster children.
ALBANY, Ga. — The roughly 100 foster children in the Albany area are expected to have a better Christmas this year.
The Junior League of Albany has collected gifts and toy donations from its members and the community, and presented these gifts, roughly $10,000 in value, to the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program.
The presentation was made at the Lily Pad Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Center Friday afternoon.
The CASA program allows trained volunteers to gather information about abused and neglected children, attend court proceedings on behalf of the children and make recommendations to juvenile court judges to help the court make a sound decision about needed services for the child and his or her future.
“About four years ago, the Junior League saw a tremendous need for (helping) foster children,” said Sara Nisinger, chair of the Junior League Foster Care Awareness Committee. “We wanted to do what we could for them.
“The holidays are really difficult for these children. Many of them say that all they want for Christmas is a mommy and daddy.”
That’s something Nisinger can relate to, having been raised in foster care.
“All I wanted was a mommy and daddy, but now I have a family of my own,” she said. “(When I got older) I resolved to help other foster kids.”
There are currently 106 children in Albany’s foster care system. At Friday’s presentation, there was one bag of gifts for each child.
Wendy’s, Southeastern Aluminum Recycling, Albany Communications, Phoebe Northwest, Albany State University, Oakcrest Academy, and Jack and Jill of America’s Albany chapter were among the organizations that contributed to the gift collection.
Erika Carver, a co-sponsor of the 9-12 age group for the Jack and Jill chapter, said the gifts the group donated were intended to be given to each other at an upcoming Christmas party. But, they found a better use for them.
“We want (the children at Jack and Jill) to know that, when you become an adult, your civil duty does not end,” she said.
Nisinger presented plaques to all the participating organizations. Wendy’s received four plaques, one for each Albany location.
The donated gifts will be wrapped, and CASA volunteers will distribute them to the children they are assigned to.
The Junior League of Albany was founded in 1964 and is a member of the Association of Junior Leagues International Inc. AJLI is an organization of women committed to promoting volunteerism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.