Wichita church reaches out to youth in foster care kids
Many people look forward to spending time with family during the Christmas season. Teenagers in the foster care system don’t always have a family to call their own. That’s where the United Methodist Church at the Well, in Wichita, steps in. For several years, the church has hosted a Christmas party for teenagers in the foster care system. Also invited are young adults, ages 18-21, who have recently aged out of the foster system. They are part of a program called STRIVE that helps them transition into adulthood as they find jobs and begin to live on their own.
The event is led by one of the church’s adult small groups, but dozens individuals and families from the church join in. Following a traditional meal of turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, vegetables and rolls the party-goers boarded two busses for a tour of the best decorated homes and communities in the area. After the bus tour they arrived back at the church for dessert and hot chocolate. Each of the teens and young adults received a Christmas present.
Each participant left with a hearty “to-go” meal (packed by volunteers at the church during the bus tour) and a bag of homemade cookies.
Pastor Mike Gaddie said the following about the event: “The bottom line reason for our doing the Christmas party is that we seek to extend love and complete acceptance to those who come. Many of them have no family, and the purpose of the party is to promote a "family type" atmosphere where they can catch up with others they know in the system, spend time in a family friendly environment, receive a full family style Christmas meal, and just have fun. It is not a party designed for us, that they are invited to, but is a party that is totally designed for them.”
One of the young participants commented “you didn't have to know it was a church or see any signs that it was a church putting on the party, because you could just feel the presence and love of God that was extended through those who put it on.”