For Hawaii’s foster kids, going through holidays amid pandemic twice as tough

Updated: Dec. 7, 2020 at 8:35 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - From the Honolulu City Lights to the lighting of the tree in New York City’s Rockefeller Center, typically crowded holiday events across the country are finding ways to adapt to the pandemic.

That includes the holiday party that Family Programs Hawaii usually holds, and the ways they’re changing protocols to serve the kids they’re charged with protecting.

The non-profit’s annual party, which benefits the state’s foster children, is usually a big event with a big mission: help kids who can come from a dangerous or unusual situation at home.

“The holidays can be really hard for kids in foster care,” says April Lum, from Family Programs Hawaii. “They are with a new family that maybe have different traditions than their biological family.”

It can be extremely difficult for children under the best circumstances, but even more so in a year when everyone is feeling more isolated than ever.

To help, Family Programs Hawaii is turning their party into an event that’s not unlike how people have been holding graduation and birthday celebrations during the pandemic.

“It’s a drive-through event where we are hoping to still have enough goodies and toys and fun for the kids, and we also have a normally a hot meal, a meal for the families, but this year we are handing out boxes of food instead,” says Michele Loudermilk, a board member with the organization.

Many of the children that the group serves are looking forward to connecting with others in the same situation.

“Holiday family is something they look forward to every year, it is the biggest event of the year,” said Sonya Sarmiento, a foster parent. “They love it and love to come and enjoy all of the community members that help out and make it such a special magical day.”

Family Programs Hawaii remains steadfast in their mission: reminding each and every child in their program that they are loved and supported.

“Our theme is ‘Reach for the Stars,’ and we want to give the kids hope that if they try hard and everything, that they can do whatever they want to do,” said Loudermilk.

Anyone interested in donating to Family Programs Hawaii can click here to visit the organization’s website.

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