Birthday Bags Bless the Lives of Houston Foster Children and Those in CPS Care
Incredible conference-wide support of the Birthday Bag mission project provided enough to share even beyond the three food banks across Texas. Casa de Esperanza was surprised and thrilled to receive several boxes of goodies for the foster children they are raising in the central Houston area.
Boxes of colorful birthday bags, overflowing with party supplies and gifts for all ages arrived at Casa de Esperanza de los Niños - the House of Hope for Children this month, much to the surprise of Director Glenda Kirshbaum. “We were unbelievably excited to hear that the Emergency Aid Coalition (EAC) had extra boxes of the Texas Annual Conference birthday bags to share and chose to give them to us!”
According to Glenda, Casa de Esperanza is a safe place for dozens of Houston area children in crisis due to abuse, neglect or the effects of HIV. Casa de Esperanza provides residential care, and coordinates medical and psychological services according to the needs of each child. “Since we receive no government funding, we depend on community support, donations and the in-kind gifts like these fantastic birthday bags to help take care of these children.”
“The overwhelming response, of over a thousand birthday bags donated from across our conference, gave EAC more than they could store,” says Jenna Arnold, a member of St. Paul’s UMC and administrative assistant for TAC’s Center for Clergy Excellence. “My son Jack and I helped deliver the extras to the House of Hope and were thrilled to learn about this organization and be able to share God’s love in this tangible way!”
When the foster parents within the Casa de Esperanza neighborhood of 10 homes learned of the birthday bags, “they went through each bag literally shopping for which ones would be best for their individual kids.” Adds Glenda, “Our house parents are always looking for budget-friendly ways to make life better for their kids in crisis. Over a year’s time we have 300-400 children here who were born to moms in prison or on drugs, for example, so these birthday bags will be a bright spot in their lives!” As an added bonus, some of the birthday bags will be taken to children who have been returned to their homes but who still live in poverty conditions.
“Prior to this, our birthday celebrations have been a haphazard attempt to do our best,” adds Glenda. “This is a very nice idea and the bags are absolutely lovely. We cannot express our appreciation to the United Methodists across Texas and EAC for this exceptional act of kindness!”
The remaining Birthday Bags were taken to the B.E.A.R. room at Children’s Protective Services. B.E.A.R. stands for be a resource for CPS kids. It is a room stocked with donated new clothing, toiletries and toys for children who may have been picked up from their homes with little or nothing. A caseworker can bring a child in to pick up the bare necessities before taking them to a temporary placement or possibly foster care. The new toys from the bags were a welcome gift to a room that always needs replenishing because the demand is so great.
Volunteers interested in continuing to support this ministry can find information at http://www.txcumc.org/birthdaybagprogram