To many West Virginians, family is most important. This is especially the case around this time of year. The holidays are a time for family and friends to gather with their children and celebrate the season through traditions old and new. Warm and friendly family gatherings are the norm for many children across the state, but some children may not experience what the majority of West Virginians get to during the Christmas season. Those in the custody of the state through the foster care system may or may not get to experience the wonderment of Christmas.
That is where groups like Boxes With a Purpose come in. Boxes With a Purpose was established to “provide a normative experience of holiday joy and fun for children who are in foster care.” Through their work, the organization attempts to demonstrate to the children in foster care that they are not alone and there are people that care about them.
The goal of Boxes With a Purpose is to supply each child with a small box that contains pajamas, popcorn, hot cocoa, and a movie. The idea is that the child will use these items and create a special holiday moment with the foster family that they currently live with, providing a way for each foster child to experience some magic of the season.
This year Boxes With a Purpose through their volunteers, like Judy Ritchie, are working hard to reach their goal of 4,500 boxes, the most that they have provided ever. As the Randolph County Point of Contact, it is Judy Ritchie’s job to help identify the children in foster care and gather supplies to assemble the Christmas boxes. With a staggering 6,000 of West Virginia’s children in foster care, this is no small feet. Her hard work and dedication to providing a “Christmas Eve Moment” to these children is why Judy was selected as this month’s Celebrating Volunteer Award Winner.
“I want each child in foster care to have a wonderful Christmas like any other,” said Judy Ritchie. “I needed to find a way to help these kids experience some normalcy in their lives. It is hard this time of year for children to feel as if they are all alone, and I want to work to fix that, even if just for an evening.”
“This is a wonderful program that provides a Christmas gift to children that have experienced heartache,” stated Marisa Matyola of WBOY-TV. “Supporting great causes like Boxes With a Purpose is an important gesture to show that as a community we care about the children that are in foster care.”
“With the ever-increasing impact opioids has had on our state and community, programs such as Boxes With a Purpose become more important than ever,” stated Tim Miley, owner of The Miley Legal Group. “What Judy and her fellow volunteers do to provide an evening filled with Christmas spirit can only help these children now and in the future.”
To learn more about Boxes With a Purpose or to donate supplies or funds visit www.BoxesWithaPurposeWV.org or “Like” their Facebook page at facebook.com/boxeswithapurposewv.
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The Celebrating Volunteers awardees receive public recognition for not only themselves but their organization. They also receive a $500 contribution to the organization they represent in their name. Marisa Matyola of WBOY TV and Tim Miley of The Miley Legal Group work together to select the awardees from the many nominations received from the public. The volunteer selected will have demonstrated their commitment to an organization through volunteerism and support.
“I am an avid supporter of volunteerism in our communities,” Miley stated. “The Celebrating Volunteers program is a way that we can recognize the hard work and dedication of individuals across our region.”
We look forward to recognizing a number of worthy individuals while giving their organizations a part of the spotlight. The program will continue recognizing volunteers throughout the coming year. In order to nominate a volunteer to receive this award, please click on the Celebrating Volunteers logo.