Ann Feczko, a volunteer who spearheads Secret Santa, said donors came through to sponsor every child who submitted a wish list.
“Everybody always pitches in, and the sponsors always come through,” she said.
Foster parents picked up donated gifts for their foster children over the weekend.
“I had a foster mom in tears on Saturday,” Feczko said. “She had two children in her home, and she thought she was coming for an item for each of them. All their winter clothes were purchased, coats, shoes, she got a stroller, some baby items for the newborn. She was just in tears.”
The Cherokee County Department of Family and Children Services first started Secret Santa in 1980, Feczko said. She volunteered to assist DFCS staff in 2004, then she and a group of volunteers took over Secret Santa in 2005.
The Secret Santa crew gets wish lists from foster children and spends weeks matching the wish lists with the right sponsors.
“Then we’re in the warehouse for two solid weeks. We live in that warehouse,” Feczko said. The same group of about five volunteers has worked with Feczko since taking on the program from DFCS staff.
Everything for Secret Santa is donated, including the warehouse space used to store and sort the gifts. Volunteers purchase things like trash bags and office supplies.
“We believe that every dime we raise should go to these kids,” Feczko said.
Secret Santa may sponsor some events such as diaper drives during the year in 2013.
Secret Santa is launching a new website at www.cherokeesanta.com. Feczko said updates about any initiatives during the year will be posted there.
Anyone wanting to give to Secret Santa can still help out. The group’s year-round fund will be used to purchase Christmas presents for children who come into foster care in the days between now and Christmas. After the holidays, the fund is used for other needs such as fees for foster children to play recreational sports or to purchase prom dresses for teenagers in foster homes.
To donate, write a check to Cherokee County DFCS with “Secret Santa” on the memo line. Checks can be mailed to DFCS at P.O. Box 826, Canton, GA, 30169.