As the holiday season cranks into full swing, I'm staring down a Christmas wish list for my kids that includes things like craft supplies (to make slime), books, Sony PlayStation games, and a stretch wish for a tech gadget or two. None of it is necessary; all of it is for fun. And that's how a Christmas wish list should be, right?
For those of us whose basic needs are met, it can be easy to forget that for some kids, even something as simple as a warm winter coat may seem out of reach. I know this. You know this. But sometimes, we need to be reminded.
Rayn Boncie, founder of Things of My Very Own, an organization that provides crisis intervention services to children impacted by abuse and/or neglect, decided to send out a little reminder to all of us about the things that some children are wishing for this Christmas. Things of My Very Own organizes a yearly drive to help collect gifts and necessities for children in need at the holidays. Without identifying the children, Boncie recently posted photos of some of the wish "tags" that show what some of the children her organization helps are asking for this Christmas.
Boncie's organization, which is based in Schenectady, New York, helps 5,000 to 7,000 children in the New York region. Things of My Very Own provides clothes, bedding, food, diapers, toiletries and even feminine products to children who are living in shelters or foster care. Many of these children have fled abusive or neglectful situations wearing nothing but the clothes on their backs. In some cases, they don't even have that.
While some kids (including my own) are asking for the latest gadget or toy, these children are asking for warm blankets, a winter coat, and even just food.
Boncie knows first-hand how important these simple items are to many of the children that her organization helps. When she was 14, after suffering years of abuse and neglect, she entered the foster care system. After living in a foster home for a few months, another foster girl came to live with them. This girl was 14 and big for her age, yet she was wearing clothing that Boncie says would have fit a 9-year-old child. At bedtime that night, Boncie noticed purplish marks on the other girl's skin where the clothing was literally bruising her. Young Boncie made a silent promise that when she grew up, she would help foster kids get the basic items that they needed. She would help these kids get 'things of their very own.'
Boncie hopes that by sharing some of the Christmas wishes of the children helped by Things Of My Very Own, she can remind us all about these children who so often slip through the cracks. You can find out more about how to help and donate at the organization's website, or you can check in with your local Salvation Army, children's shelter or food pantry to learn about ways you can help children in your own community.