AUSTIN, Texas — While Santa has a workshop at the North Pole, he also has one here in Austin dedicated to making sure children in foster care are a top priority this December.
"It's chaos, but it's organized chaos," said Katie Young, development director for Partnerships for Children. "We are at this warehouse for 10 days. It takes thousands of volunteers and workers to make this happen – shopping for the kids, driving U-hauls across the region."
Partnerships for Children's annual Holiday Wishes program aims to make sure more than 6,000 children in foster care get something special for Christmas. The goal is to give them some normalcy when they return to school after the break.
"You may think, 'Oh, it's not that big of a deal.' But it is that big of a deal. This small little thing where kiddos getting gifts through Holiday Wishes can go back to school and say, 'This is what I got for Christmas!' just like the rest of their schoolmates," Young said.
PHOTOS: Partnerships for Children's Holiday Wishes toy drive
The program serves children in Travis County as well as 22 other surrounding counties.
The initiative has been described as Marcus Cantu's baby. He is the community partners coordinator for Partnerships for Children.
"What really strikes me sometimes is seeing the wishes and how some of the children request clothing instead of toys, which is not typical for a six-year-old child. So, it kind of just shows what their needs are," Cantu said.
What keeps a lot of these workers and volunteers coming back to help each year is being able to see how this program makes an impact on the children for years to come.
"Last year, we had a girl in her 20s come in and help with Holiday Wishes who aged out of care. And she said she got a pair of jeans one year, and she said it meant the world to her," Cantu said. "She said she didn't even care that they didn't fit because she got a gift she wouldn't have gotten."
KVUE launched the Forever Families segment with Partnerships for Children (PFC) in June 2020 to highlight children in the Heart Gallery of Central Texas who need secure and permanent families. Every day, there are nearly 1,000 children waiting to get adopted in Central Texas, according to PFC.
FOREVER FAMILIES CHILDREN: