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COOS COUNTY — To celebrate National Foster Care Month with foster families throughout Coos County, the Oregon Department of Human Services and Every Child Coos County teamed up this week.

The month is traditionally filled with lots of events and an annual ice-cream social, but this year local officials with DHS and Every Child planned a remote giveaway event to show local families their appreciation and gratitude.

With many COVID-19 health restrictions still in place, Every Child Coos County director Melissa Hart said the two organizations decided it would celebrate this year’s event by purchasing and distributing over 300 gift cards from Domino’s Pizza to families.

“I think more than ever we are really wanting to wrap around, support, celebrate and show gratitude to our local foster families,” said Hart.

Understanding that fostering can be hard for many families, in the times of COVID-19, challenges can become more frequent and families can feel more isolated, said Hart. The ability to reach out and assist families anyway they can is more important now than ever, she added.

According to Hart, the event was made possible with funds provided by DHS’s Foster Parent Association, United Way of Southwestern Oregon, Every Child, CASA of Coos County and individual donations from Oregon Coast Community Action.

The gift cards will be mailed out on Tuesday, May 26, to families, along with individualized thank you cards.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to partner with all these organizations and to be able to reflect to the foster community that we see you and we appreciate you,” said Hart. “I hope that this small gesture helps them feel a little bit more appreciated and encouraged.”

On June 11, Every Child Coos County is planning to host a virtual “Explore Fostering Coffeehouse” forum at 7 p.m. for people interested in learning more about what it takes to become a foster parent, said Hart.

Community members can register for the online forum on the nonprofit’s website where they can also learn more about its neighborhood support program, “My NeighbOR,” which launched earlier this spring to help foster families in need, Hart added.

The local program has met the critical needs of 17 families in Coos County from community donations which totaled over $1,000. As of May 1, in Coos County there are approximately 130 certified foster homes and about 160 children in foster care.

Reporter Amanda Linares can be reached at 541-266-6039 or by email at worldnews3@countrymedia.net.

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