Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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July 2, 2014

‘Christmas in July’ drive to benefit foster kids in Cherokee County

CHEROKEE COUNTY — A "Christmas in July" campaign begins this month to benefit children removed from their homes due to crisis situations.

“Usually when a CPS worker has to remove a child from an abusive or neglectful situation, they only get the child,” Cherokee County Child and Family Services Board Chair Shirley Reese explained. “They typically don't have time to get blankies or p.j.s or teddy bears. As you can imagine, that doesn't help ease an already traumatic experience

at all.”

Fortunately, thanks to the Cherokee County Child and Family Services, there's a Rainbow Room waiting to greet them, and it is from this location that youths receive emergency supplies.

The Rainbow Room is “a store-like setting where CPS caseworkers can get emergency supplies for children who are victims of abuse or neglect,” according to the Greater Texas Community Partners' website, www.gtcp.org. “Caseworkers can pick up items such as new clothing, diapers and formula.”

By teaming up with the Greater Texas Community Partners – a cooperative effort between Texas communities and the Child Protective Services (CPS) program – the local Texas Department of Family and Protective Services office is able to stock and sponsor the Rainbow Room in Cherokee County, currently home to more than 120 children in foster care.

“This public/private relationship helps frontline caseworkers assist abused and neglected children and their families,” states the Department of Family and Protective Services' website, dfps.state.tx.us. “The most basic needs of a family in crisis are often unavailable, and caseworkers typically cannot provide the necessities from their personal resources. With the introduction of the Rainbow Room, assistance with basic needs becomes available. This helps keep families together through traumatic times and can be equally critical in developing a helping relationship between caseworkers and the families they serve."

In its continuing quest to find ways to give back to the community, the Jacksonville Daily Progress is partnering with Chili's Bar and Grill in Jacksonville and the Cherokeean Herald newspaper in Rusk to sponsor the Cherokee County Rainbow Room's Christmas in July donation drive.

“We feel this service is vital to ensure the well-being of children in our area,” said JDP managing editor April Barbe. "Sometimes the items they need are things that we take for granted every day. I hope we will see local residents step up to assist the Rainbow Room."

Daily Progress subscribers and other Jacksonville residents are urged to stop by the paper's office at 525 E. Commerce St. in Jacksonville and pick up an empty Chili's to-go bag, which has a list of items the Rainbow Room is continuously in need of.

The newspaper will collect filled bags throughout July, and at the end of the month, drive organizers will present all collected items to the Rainbow Room.

Bags will also be available at the Cherokee County Child and Family Services office, 1037 SE Loop 456 in Jacksonville; and at the Cherokeean Herald office, 140 N. Main St. in Rusk.

According to the DFPS's website, the Rainbow Room's motto is “abused and neglected children do not deserve abused and neglected things,” and organizers ask that only new items be donated to the drive.

“Of each dollar a community donates, 100 percent goes directly to the children within that community,” said drive organizer Cristin Reece. “Every single item we collect will go directly to help local families.”

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