Police working to help kids have a merry Christmas

PARKERSBURG – Since early November, the Parkersburg Police Department has been working with Try-Again Homes to help provide a positive Christmas for area foster children.

Try-Again Homes (TAH) is a non-profit foster care agency located in Parkersburg and Fairmont, which provides foster/adoptive homes for children ages birth to 18 years and is funded in part under an agreement with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

For the third year, Sgt. Greg Collins said the Parkersburg Police Department has been collecting gifts and donations for foster children in the TAH program. This year’s gift drive is working to benefit 54 children, providing toys, clothing and other items through donations from the community and local businesses.

Collins believes it is important for the police department to be involved in the program.

“These kids that become foster children are the center of events that we respond to more often than not,” he said.

“This project gives them the Christmas that every kid deserves and I think it could be a moment that could cause them to see life a little differently, that there are a lot of good things about life,” he said.

Collins said donations have gone so well, the PPD delivered two truckloads – one of which was the department’s S.W.A.T. vehicle – of donated items, toys, clothing on Tuesday to TAH’s office for wrapping and distribution. The PPD will continue accepting donations through Friday at the City Park Police Substation, he said.

“We couldn’t be happier with the way this turned out again this year,” Collins said of the gift drive.

Among some of the many highlights, Collins said the gift drive received a $1,000 donation from Parkersburg City Council member Nancy Wilcox for the purchase of coats, $500 from Empire Builders and a group of local women named Project Linus made 58 hand-made blankets to be given out to the children.

Collins said Zides Sports Shop remains actively involved in the program. Last year, Zides provided shoes for every child in the program and this year expanded that to also include toys for younger children and clothing for older children, in addition to the shoes. Those donations filled one of the trucks delivered to TAH on Tuesday.

Brad Gault, a psychologist with TAH, said the gift drive by the Parkersburg Police Department and the community support it illustrates is important.

“It’s nice this time of year because these kids come from very troubled backgrounds, they lived troubled lives a lot of the time. It’s really nice just to see them be kids and experience Christmas like any other child would,” Gault said.

Collins said foster homes are needed due to a variety of issues, some of which include neglect and abuse (physical, emotional and sexual), alcohol and drug abuse, special medical circumstances and others. Adoptive homes are needed when it is determined that children cannot return or remain with biological parents and parental rights have been terminated.

On average, more than 3,000 children in need of quality foster/adoptive homes throughout West Virginia, he said.

Collins stressed that through Friday, new and unwrapped gifts for the children can still be dropped off at the City Park police substation between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily.

Police volunteers and officers will be on hand to help with collection and coordination. There is a list of clothing and shoes sizes at www.parkersburgpolice.com.