Local women fundraise to support foster families

Published 7:00 am Saturday, July 13, 2019

Junior Auxiliary works to support foster children in Pearl River County by providing school uniforms, food, gift cards and school supplies, said Junior Auxiliary of Picayune President Brittany Parker.

Foster parents often do not know exactly when a child will be placed with them, Parker said, which can make it challenging to get everything kids need on short notice.

“Not all of them have an influx of cash to start a whole new family overnight,” Parker said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Junior Auxiliary can provide pajamas or toys, which can offer comfort to kids in the foster care system.

“It’s gut wrenching really. They have to completely start over everywhere they go,” Parker said.

Once or twice a month, the organization receives a phone call or sees a post on Facebook about a foster child who needs school supplies or clothing, Parker said. Children in the foster care system typically do not bring much with them when they are moved to a foster home, Parker said.

“They don’t always have time to pack things,” Parker said. “They leave with the clothes on their back and what they can carry.”

Local student council members help the organization with their work, which helps students learn about community service and provides an opportunity to make connections within the community, said Ex-Officio Jennifer Cutrer. Members also bring their own kids to meetings and events to learn about community service, said vice-treasurer Stephanie Ussery, which fulfills the group’s motto—care today, character tomorrow, said Cutrer.

Junior Auxiliary is already planning for Christmas in July, said Parker. The organization’s biggest event every year is a Foster Family Christmas Party, where 25 to 30 local foster families gather to receive presents and food baskets, meet with a Santa Claus and decorate cookies, Parker said. Last year a brother and sister who were placed in separate foster homes were reunited at the party after months apart, Parker said.

“Everyone is family at this party,” Parker said.

Group members have already chosen a theme, begun fundraising by selling raffle tickets for a vacation package and have partnered with a local toy drive to prepare for the Christmas party, Parker said. Anyone who wants to donate to Junior Auxiliary can contact the club through Facebook or email jaofpicayune@gmail.com.