Foster Children Celebrate Christmas Early - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/4/04-Smith County

Foster Children Celebrate Christmas Early

It was a day of surprises for some Smith County foster children.  The kids were treated to a Christmas party, complete with food, fun and of course gifts.

Jan McDonnell, chairperson of the Tyler/Smith County Child Welfare Board, said the party is a chance for these children to have a happy holiday.

"It's a fun time for them we try to make it a fun time," she said.  "We give them gifts here from Santa but then we also the board buys them gifts that are under the Christmas tree."

The children that gathered at the Green Acres Baptist Church Student Center are all foster children.  Some given up by their parents at a young age, others taken out of a troubled home, all in search of a normal life.

"They are taken out of a bad situation so to be put in something normal must be absolutely wonderful for them," said McDonnell.

Dwight Jennings is one of those looking for that normal life.  After years of being passed from one foster home to the next, the 17-year-old will spend this Christmas with a family he cares about.

"This is probably my longest time to stay in a foster home this long," he said.  "They're like a mom and dad to me..  It's just like a family to me."

That family includes five other foster brothers and sisters.  With plenty of love to go around Dwight is looking forward to the holidays.

"This will probably be my best Christmas since...  a long time."

Those who organized this party hope the gifts and good times are a good start to that.

"Isn't that what Christmas is all about, to see the kids and the smiles on their faces," said McDonnell.

The annual Christmas party is put together by the Tyler/Smith coCnty Child Welfare Board along with donations from area businesses.  About 55 kids attended the party.

Chris Gibson, reporting

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