BCFS Health and Human Services celebrated Thanksgiving the best way we know how: by helping children and families enjoy good food and fellowship — giving them experiences that would otherwise be out of reach. Our initiatives were a precursor to the holiday season, and as December progresses we plan to deliver even more joy to children and their families this Christmas.
Prior to Thanksgiving Day, BCFS Education Services Head Start invited children and families in Beeville, Fredericksburg and Johnson City to free family events on November 21st and 22nd.
More than 530 turkeys were given away to local families. About 2,000 free meals were served from gourmet food trucks. Plus, 400 backpacks were given out to children.
Kids enjoyed face painting and balloon artists, met superheroes and princesses, and got to check out a real fire truck, courtesy of local fire and police departments partnering with BCFS for the event.
The purpose of the event was to raise awareness about BCFS Education Services’ Head Start program, which provides free Pre-K and early education services to 3 and 4 year olds. BCFS Education Services is enrolling students now for their Head Start classrooms in Harper, Johnson City, Beeville, Skidmore, Refugio and George West.
Head Start is a national program that promotes school readiness by enhancing the social and cognitive development of children by providing educational, health, nutritional, social and other services to enrolled children and families.
Turkey & trimmings for Del Rio families
In Del Rio, more than 100 families received turkey and all the trimmings on the week of Thanksgiving. The meals were given to congratulate the families for completing the STAR program operated by BCFS Health and Human Services, which provides counseling, trainings and other services to unify and strengthen families.
Services To At Risk Youth (STAR) helps Del Rio families create stable, loving home environments by providing free counseling, training for youth and parents, and help reducing family conflict and delinquent behaviors in youth, like truancy and running away from home. The STAR program serves families with youth 17 years old and younger. This November, BCFS helped 160 children and youth and gave out 133 Thanksgiving meals.
“Many of the families we serve live paycheck to paycheck, or are struggling with unemployment, so putting a full Thanksgiving spread on the table is a burden, or completely out of reach,” says Interim Director, Delia Ramos. “We wanted to help families enjoy a holiday meal with loved ones, but also leave a more lasting mark on their lives through the STAR program.”
Thanksgiving luncheon for San Antonio youth
On November 24th, BCFS hosted a Thanksgiving luncheon in San Antonio for youth from foster care and their foster families. The luncheon brought together approximately 200 youth from foster care, foster families, and BCFS’ community partners including the Department of Family Protective Services (DFPS).
The event was complete with long, family-style banquet tables, games like giant outdoor Jenga, and a football game on projector screens. Youth played with BCFS staff members and mentors, and expressed their thanks for BCFS Health and Human Services’ PAL program, among other blessings.
The PAL program, or Preparation for Adult Living, helps youth from foster care prepare for life on their own by teaching life skills like budgeting, healthy relationships, and how to access critical resources.
December has begun in the same spirit as November with #givingtuesday, an international day of philanthropy, which fell on the first of the month. BCFS Health and Human Services encouraged supporters to sponsor a child through CERI (Children’s Emergency Relief International), and welcomed donations to our many community programs.
As the holiday season continues, stay tuned for more information on the annual BCFS program Christmas Dreams, which will give youth in the BCFS Lubbock Transition Center holiday meals, visits with Santa, and donated gifts. This year we will give gifts to 55 young adults and their 23 children.
BCFS’ Lubbock Transition Center is a one-stop-shop for youth in or aging out of foster care, those in the juvenile justice system, and others in need of a helping hand to make the transition into adulthood. The center provides case management, counseling, life skills training, and education and employment assistance.