NORTH BEND — Engles Furniture and Mattress, along with the Oregon Department of Human Services, teamed up Saturday to offer Christmas gifts for dozens of local foster kids throughout Coos County.
The event, held at the Engles’ store in downtown North Bend, celebrated the holiday by donating a variety of gifts to children in foster care and offering a free Santa Claus meet-and-greet.
Steve Nye, general manager at Engles Furniture, is joined by staff members in placing their donated gifts underneath its store's Christmas tree.
General Manager Steve Nye said staff members came up with the idea of donating gifts to local foster children after its sales team proposed having a gift wrapping contest for its December team building meeting.
“As a company, we get to choose what causes we’d like to focus on,” Nye said. “Mr. Engles has always been a supporter of education and children in the community so it made sense for us to give back to children in foster care.”
Twenty children in child-specific foster care were selected to receive gifts from the event. The donated presents were handed over to DHS, who will then distribute them to the families that were chosen.
DHS foster family certifier Monica Picatti assisted in Saturday’s event offering attendees’ detailed information regarding the county’s foster care program and outlining requirements needed to become a foster parent.
“We got the call from Engles to partner and thought it was great opportunity for us to spread the word about foster care,” Picatti said. “It also served as a perfect example of how people can help children in foster care without being a foster parent.”
For some child-specific foster homes, which allows children in foster care to stay with a family relative, financial stability can be a huge challenge for their households. For example, Picatti pointed out many grandparents who take in their grandchildren happen to be on fixed incomes and would have tighter finances to work with.
That being said, Picatti added DHS will work with families in being flexible and tentative to their needs as to avoid causing any additional financial stress.
“We know children do better when they are with their families,” she said. “Whenever it’s possible we do try to place them with relatives.”
As the event went along, Nye said it was great seeing people having conversations about the foster care system and exchanging their own personal stories and experiences.
“This particular cause really struck a chord in me because my brother-in-law is a foster parent,” Nye said. “I’ve watched his family and seen the sacrifices they’ve made, so this is something that has been very close to our hearts.”