Group kicks off Giving Tree program for foster children

Evelyn Curlee, chairwoman of the Coffee County Community Advisory Board, hangs an angel orna-ment on the Giving Tree at Northgate Mall. Each ornament contains a gift suggestion for a child in fos-ter care in Coffee County. The community is invited to purchase the gift listed on the ornament and drop it off at the location of the tree. The gifts will be distributed by Department of Children’s Services case workers. – Staff Photo by Chris Barstad

The Department of Children’s Services (DCS) is partnering with the Coffee County Community Advisory Board (CAB) to coordinate activities for local foster children this Christmas season, according to Evelyn Curlee, board treasurer.

A focal point of the effort will be Giving Trees, which will be decorated with angel ornaments listing the needs and wants of local foster children.

Giving Trees will be placed in local businesses and members of the community who choose to help will pick out an angel containing a foster child’s Christmas wish, purchase the item, and return it to the business where the angel was taken off the tree. The gifts do not need to be wrapped.

Volunteers will then follow up to collect the gifts, which will be delivered by DCS caseworkers to the children.  There are approximately 80 children in foster care in Coffee County at any one time.

Evelyn Curlee, chairwoman of the Coffee County Community Advisory Board, hangs an angel ornament on the Giving Tree at Northgate Mall. Each ornament contains a gift suggestion for a child in foster care in Coffee County. The community is invited to purchase the gift listed on the ornament and drop it off at the location of the tree. The gifts will be distributed by Department of Children’s Services case workers.

– Staff Photo by Chris Barstad

“The children range in age from infants to teenagers. Many come from abusive or neglectful situations and it’s important to show them people care about them,” said Rosemary Crabtree, CAB president. “Foster parents provide a loving environment, but many times cannot do special things for the children like provide Christmas presents, birthday parties, outings, and school-related activities. As a result, these children are often ostracized, making it even harder for them to fit into society.”

“Each year the people of Coffee County step up to provide a wonderful Christmas for these children and I’m confident this year will be no different,” said Curlee.

At this point trees are placed in Tullahoma at Wal-Mart, Northgate Mall, King’s Cross Church, and First Vision Bank.  Manchester trees are located at Food Lion, Boskey’s Grill, and Starbucks.

Employees at UTSI, Cracker Barrel and Ravago Manufacturing and members of the Marine Corps League Detachment No. 1128, the local IBEW and Robert’s Chapel Baptist Church are also crucial in making the gift drive a success this year.

To make all this and more happen for Coffee County’s needy children, volunteers are needed. Anyone who would like to help in a small or large way should contact Evelyn Curlee at lcurlee@lighttube.net or 247-5040.  The Coffee County Community Advisory Board meets the second Wednesday of each month at the C.D. Stamps Community Center at 11:30 a.m. and all are invited.