Youth at St. Richard Catholic Church in Swanton helped bring joy to area foster children last Saturday.
The 10th annual Foster Christmas Party was put on by the St. Richard youth group Go Light Our World (GLOW). They partnered with St. Richard Knights of Columbus Sacred Heart Council 2850, the Swanton Area Railroad & Model Club, and others to put on the party.
There were 21 families with 104 children in attendance and gifts bought for all of them.
It is not just the foster children who find delight in the event, the many volunteers, including students from the youth group, do as well.
“By helping with this party for these kids, it brings them so much joy, but I receive even more joy watching them. It warms my heart and I want to do more to improve other people’s lives and bring them cheer,” said Adam Niese, a high school sophomore. “But it creates a chain reaction, doing something nice for other people, they see that and want to do something nice for someone else, so forth.”
The members of GLOW also had the opportunity to see how good many of them really have it.
“These kids don’t have the same luxuries as I do, but they were still happy. A little girl had to use a walker to walk around, and still had a glowing smile on her face,” said Tanner Callicotte, a high school junior.
“The children’s faces were the most rewarding and made me realize how fortunate I am,” said Catherine Snyder, a freshman.
This year there was an underlying theme of hometown heroes, according to Sarah Roof, youth and young adult minister at St. Richard. Area firefighers brought an elf and Mrs. Claus and Santa were escorted in by Swanton Police. Also on hand were new Fulton County K-9 deputy Fazzo and his partner Justin Galbraith.
“They handed out firefighter hats, stickers from the police and the kids were able to pet and talk to Justin and Fazzo,” said Roof. “There was a table set up that the kids could write/make them a thank you card/note.”
The church group works with Adriel, who provides foster care services.
“We all just love this event so much and appreciate all the hard work and love that is put into this for our families,” said Mandy Jerger, Adriel Northwest FCE regional manager. “Another amazing party. We can never imagine how (they) will do it better, but every year it is better than last.”
Roof said that St. Richard is a very giving parish that loves to help others.
“It’s our way of spreading love to others. For some people it’s a tradition, that instead of buying presents for each other (like sisters, etc.) they buy presents for these Foster children who might not get much of a Christmas and they look forward to it every year.”