Business community steps up for foster care children

FRONT ROYAL – Community and business leaders stepped up this week to help raise $1,300 for needy foster children in Warren County.

The Warren County Department of Social Services took nine more children into its foster care program in the past month and a half, Director Beth Reavis said earlier this week. This was more than the agency took in all of last year and an unusual occurrence, Reavis added. The department already had 18 when it added the nine, six of which came in last week. The agency then works early in the holiday season to find sponsors for each of the children to buy toys and fulfill other needs.

Reavis thanked the business community for stepping up to help the agency provide for the foster children.

The agency director let people know about the situation on Monday at the Front Royal-Warren County Chamber of Commerce business after-hours event. The organization collects money at the door and toys at the December event, and the proceeds go to foster care program, Executive Director Niki Foster said.

“And they really were kids in need,” Reavis said. “I was telling the chamber, you know, three of the kids didn’t own socks and shoes, didn’t own any coats and had never had a toy.”

The chamber collected toys and about $215 at the door, Foster said. Chamber representatives then presented the proceeds to Beth Reavis, director of the social services department. Reavis then told the crowd about the status of the program and said they took in a large group of children that the agency did not expect, Foster said.

“A few of those kids had no socks, no shoes,” Foster said. “They had never had any toys – just heart-wrenching stories about these kids.”

Mayor Timothy Darr and his wife then issued the challenge to anyone in the room that they would match any additional donations up to $500, Foster said.

“People just poured to the front handing money to Beth,” Foster said.

Reavis left the event with about $1,300 although more people promised to bring money by the department office later in the week.

“I was just like overwhelmed,” Reavis said. “It’s been a long time since people threw money at me.”

Then two people at the event expressed to DSS employees an interest in becoming foster parents, Reavis said. Members of the board for the local Salvation Army also offered their assistance to the agency.

Reavis said $1,300 can go far to provide coats, shoes, diapers, car seats and other needs for the children.

“When you remove three kids – little bitty kids – that need everything then you’ve gotta get everything,” Reavis said. “They didn’t have anything.”

Some of the children came to the department as a result of a child protective services case, Reavis said. She added that the Warren County Sheriff’s Office received some money and is also helping the agency. Meanwhile, individuals have called the department with offers to help.

The situation highlights a problem facing the community, Foster said.

“It was really nice to see but it’s a horrible story to know that we have so many kids that are dealing with that issue,” Foster said. “There were a lot of tears in the room. That really affects you, when you’re talking about young children and not really having even the basic things …”

Mayor Darr didn’t want to take credit Tuesday for sparking interest in donating to the cause. Darr gave the credit to the chamber and its members.

“It was just the right thing to do at the time,” Darr said, recalling that Reavis’ story spurred him and his wife to put down the challenge. “And everybody in the place was tearing up.”

People didn’t hesitate to meet their challenge.

“Fortunately we’re blessed that we can do that,” Darr said.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com