By Maria Myers
A group of local children had a happy holiday season thanks to the generosity of Valrico and Lithia families. Kids ‘R’ Kids, a local childcare center, set up Angel Trees in its facilities, and thanks to parents and community members, 150 local foster children received new gifts.
The way it works: a tree is set up with angel ornaments detailing children’s wishes. Residents are invited to pick an angel and buy several presents for a child in need; it’s that simple. The Foster Angel Tree drive started for this facility back in 2004 and since then has helped thousands of children in the local community.
“We first got involved with this organization when we realized there were so many children that are separated from their family and placed in a foster home due to abuse, neglect or abandonment during the Christmas Holiday,” said Ben Fernandes, one of the owners at Kids ‘R’ Kids. “Our mission at Kids ‘R’ Kids was to reach out to our families who come from an affluent background and ask them to help our cause.”
Kids ‘R’ Kids’ goal is to serve every foster child in Hillsborough County by providing each child with new, age-appropriate gifts from their wish lists.
Over the years, Fernandes and other employees have visited the Foster Angel warehouse facility where tens of thousands of toys are housed for the children.
“This year, we were very skeptical given the COVID pandemic,” Fernandes admitted. “We were honestly anxious at the type of response we would have. We are enthused with the results at both Kids ‘R’ Kids locations this year. Both our lobbies are overflowing with generous toys, bikes and gifts.”
This is the largest turn out the organization has had since it began hosting the program over a decade ago.
If you would like to contribute for the next holiday season, Kids ‘R’ Kids has two locations, one in Valrico near River Hills and the other in Lithia near FishHawk West.
For more information, visit to KidsRKids.com or call 654-7000.