GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - By Jessica Bowman – email
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Christmas cheer was spread generously around the room Friday night at the Handsboro Community Center in Gulfport. About 100 Harrison County foster kids came together for the 4th annual Christmas party hosted by the Resilience of Coastal Kids Foundation or ROCK.
It looked like a Christmas candy land. Toys, food and loved ones surrounded children of all ages.
Theresa Kemp said, "Oh, I think it's a joyous occasion. It gives them an opportunity to get together and see everybody. Some foster children move from home to home sometimes, but all of them tend to get to know each other and so it's just a fun time for them."
Department of Human Services Regional Director Theresa Kemp joined in on the holiday fun. She said it's important each child is able to celebrate the reason for the season.
"I think the foster parents and social workers are talking to them and telling them that this is all about Jesus Christ and the birth," said Kemp.
ROCK organizers served up a kids favorite, pizza and cake to make the party a little merrier. Once Santa Claus made his way in, the smiles were contagious.
"We've had people for the last two months in the community donating toys and clothing and things that we need. The community has just been awesome coming together and meeting the needs of these children and we just thank them so much for that," said Magdelena Holland.
ROCK volunteer Magdelena Holland said Santa made sure each child went home with their very own stocking and gift. Whether it was a doll, a stuffed puppy or a new game, no child left empty handed.
"Oh, the kids love Santa. They love getting out and having Christmas. Some of these kids, it will be their only Christmas," said Holland.
Volunteers said seeing the children's face light up is a priceless gift. And knowing that many children in foster care felt the joy Christmas brings, motivates them to do ever more for these precious children.
"It's a beautiful time for us and it's when we can get all our foster children together and we show an expression of love," said Kemp.
Each child was also given a bag of toys before they left to open on Christmas morning.