Families Needed To Give Oklahoma Foster Kids A Home For The Holidays
TULSA, Oklahoma - With Christmas just a few weeks away, children are getting excited about Santa, lights and presents. But for many Oklahoma foster children, none of that really matters.
They are just wishing for a family and a home.
The Department of Human Services is working to make sure children don't have to spend Christmas in a shelter.
It's hard to imagine spending Christmas in a shelter, but for more than 200 foster children it's a sad reality.
And those who have been in the system will tell you, all they want is to spend the holiday in a home - even if it's not their own.
"To spend Christmas in a shelter that really hurts the hearts of a lot of children, I feel like," said Zion Mclain, former foster child.
There's been a lot of heartache in Zion Mclain's life, through no fault of his own.
"My mom, she passed away from cancer, and my dad was the only one there and he was addicted to heroin," Zion said. "He was doing heroin, and we didn't have no food in the refrigerator, and DHS came and we got taken away."
He's spent the past six years going between foster homes and the Laura Dester Children's shelter, so for him, Christmas became:
"A day, just another day," he said.
Zion just turned 18, which means he's on his own now, getting a little help from a grant program for children who age out of the system.
Though he's living in an empty apartment and looking for a job, he finally has something to look forward to.
"This'll be my first Christmas in a while that is gonna be good, I hope," he said.
DHS's Home for the Holidays was created with stories like Zion's in mind.
Adrienne and Brandon Potter opened their home for a full week during Christmas 2012 to two young foster children, but more than that, they opened their hearts.
"We all got to love more and love more freely and not worry about the gifts and the things so much," Adrienne said.
"All of the sudden Christmas became about people and it really was, it was about them and loving them."
A love that grew past Christmas, and into a passion for helping foster children year round.
"We probably got more out of it than they did," said Brandon Potter, foster dad. "Hopefully they got to experience a good Christmas, but they really touched our hearts."
Anyone who does want the open their home to a child for Christmas must pass a criminal background check and a home inspection.
You can host a child for a day or five days, depending on what works best for you.
The agency also hopes families will look beyond the holidays, like the Potters, and think about taking these children in on the weekend or throughout the year.