Every year during the holidays, the Child Protective Services (CPS) Team goes above and beyond to brighten the holidays for children in foster care in Buncombe County. This massive undertaking, spearheaded by Social Work Program Manager Amber Cook and CPS staff, made over 300 foster wish lists come true. “Dozens of CPS employees spend hours in ‘Santa’s workshop’ making sure that each child’s wish list is filled, wrapped, and tagged,” explains Social Work Division Director Rebecca Smith. “The elves go over the lists, checking twice, and often run out to shop for children who come into custody or for items that might be missing from the wish lists.”
This year, a special donation from Can’d Aid of 60 bikes is boosting the effort to provide happy holidays for these foster children. “Can’d Aid volunteers built the bikes at the Smoky Park Supper Club in just one night. This donation is tremendously helpful as bikes are always on birthday and holiday wish lists,” exclaims Smith. “We work with many generous community partners such as Asheville Radio Group, Can’d Aid, the Guardian Ad Litem Association, State Employees’ Credit Union, and AVL Technologies, along with awesome and thoughtful individuals to make these wishes come true for children in foster care. Each year, we say, ‘I can’t believe how great the sponsors are and how much they gave to the kids,’ and each year they just do more! It is truly magical.”
Besides bicycles, this year foster kids will be getting American Girl dolls, piano lessons, gift cards galore, toys, sandboxes, clothes, and even pots and pans. “Every year, CPS staff stay throughout the night and into the early morning hours to ensure that all of the presents are organized, logged, and sent on their way to the child’s placement,” says Social Work Supervisor April Suttles. “This effort starts in September and lasts for months until every gift is delivered and every child in protective custody receives a present.”
“Holidays are hard for a lot of people for many reasons. Even though CPS social workers try hard to reduce trauma as much as possible for children in protective custody, the trauma that comes along with this process can be significant,” notes Suttles. “It’s important for these children to have as normal a holiday celebration as possible and spend time just being a kid.”
Buncombe County would like to thank Amber Cook, all the CPS staff, and our very generous community partners for helping make this holiday magic possible.