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Group Aims to Make Holiday Season Special for AR Foster Youth


Monday, December 20, 2021   

The holiday season can be a difficult time for anyone away from home, especially for kids in foster care.

Volunteers in Arkansas have been working around the clock for months to ensure foster children in the state still experience the season's joy. Hundreds of advocates with CASA of Northwest Arkansas support abused and neglected children who are currently in the foster-care system.

Crystal Vickmark, executive director of the organization, said since September, the organization has been planning for the holidays. CASA had the children in its program create wish lists and with the help of donors, almost every item on the list this year has been checked off.

"It is probably one of the most overwhelming times of the year for us, simply because of the generosity of our community just comes out," Vickmark remarked. "The amount of love that goes into making sure that these children feel special during the holidays, again it's overwhelming."

CASA of Northwest Arkansas currently serves an estimated 550 children in the four-county region. Advocates have also been making gingerbread houses and decorating cookies and stockings with kids in the CASA program.

For people who will be spending the holidays with a child in foster care, Vickmark pointed out it is crucial to make them feel a part of the family and see if there are any traditions they would like to do with you.

"And it's important not to press your beliefs upon the child," Vickmark noted. "Just making sure ahead of time that they are aware of the situation and feel involved and comfortable in your family's tradition, and maybe even make new traditions together."

More than 4,700 children in the state were in foster care in November, according to the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

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