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Laguna Blanca Students Give the Gift of Hope to Local Foster Children

The students spread joy to others in collecting nearly 200 presents to be distributed before Christmas.

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Laguna Blanca students gather for a photo to mark their efforts in collecting gifts in a toy drive for Santa Barbara County foster children. (Tara Broucqsault / Laguna Blanca School photo)

Laguna Blanca School started the holiday season with goodwill and cheer by sponsoring a toy drive for children in the Santa Barbara County Foster Care System.

This time of year can be especially difficult on foster children, who may find themselves separated from their families because of abuse, abandonment and/or because of an incapacitated parent. The gesture of a stranger presenting a gift to a foster child has more impact than just material gain.

Many children in the foster care system have grown up in abusive environments, where perhaps their own parents have let them down. Hence, many grow up thinking that the world is uncaring and cold.

“When I gave a gift to an 8-year-old foster boy who was residing at the shelter due to reasons of physical abuse, his eyes grew as wide as plates,” Anne Rodriguez from Child Welfare Services told the students. “He asked, ‘Is this really for me? Why would someone who doesn’t know me, buy me a gift?’ I responded, ‘Because the world is full of people who love and care about you, even if they don’t know you.’”

This was his first awakening. Perhaps the world isn’t as cold as he thought. “That gift was more than a toy truck,” Rodriguez said. “It represented love and hope to this child.”

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Anne Rodriguez from Child Welfare Services shares with students at Laguna Blanca School her experience of giving a gift to a foster child. (Tara Broucqsault / Laguna Blanca School photo)
Stephanie Anderson, Latin instructor at Laguna Blanca School, first brought the gift drive idea to the school. It was then Trish McHale, adviser of the Interact Club, who got the ball rolling and inspired students and parents to participate.

Dana Martin, assistant to the head of middle school, coordinated the distribution of name tags with holiday gift wishes on them from foster children. The middle school students were very moved by this cause and rounded up nearly 200 gifts to be distributed before Christmas.

“We loved this program and hope to do it again next year,” Martin said. “Our students really enjoyed this.”

For more information about becoming a licensed foster parent and/or an adoptive parent, contact Rodriguez at 805.696.8959 or [email protected], or click here.

Tara Broucqsault is public relations director at Laguna Blanca School.

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