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Foster care students receive finals week care packages

Foster care students receive finals week care packages - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma

Philippians 4:13 printed on a mug, fillled with hot chocolate ingredients included in a care package. [Photo: Emily Howsden]

At the end of 2019, Oklahoma Baptists were presented with a unique opportunity to serve adults, who used to be children in foster care.

There are, reportedly, more than 100 college students who have aged out of the foster care system in Oklahoma. These students were never adopted or reunited with their birth families.

In the summer of 2018, Oklahoma Successful Adulthood Program contacted the Department of Human Safety about providing care packages to those students during finals week at the end of their college semesters.

Care packages are something colleges and universities offer for parents to buy for their student to send them snacks, notes, comfort items, among other things, to help students during the toughest time of the semester—finals week.

Foster care students receive finals week care packages - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma 1

A photo sent by a student who received their care package. The student said ‘I got the care package today, it’s a literal duffel bag full of stuff.’ [Photo provided]

For students with families, this can be a joyful time where they feel loved and supported. However, for students who were not adopted from the foster care system, it can be a painful reminder that they were never adopted.

“This is where we as Oklahoma Baptists stepped in,” said Amy Cordova, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) women’s missions and ministry specialist.

“DHS contacted (the) BGCO Women(‘s) (office) to see if we would be interested in providing finals week care packages for these college students. Without hesitation, we said ‘Yes!’”

One specific care package to a female student included: lemonade, post-it notes, pens, highlighters, decorative tape, a notebook, chapstick, fuzzy socks, a nail file, packages of tissues, a large throw blanket, coffee drinks, hot chocolate, a mug, gummy bears, popcorn, an Olive Garden gift card, snack cakes and an encouraging letter with Bible verses.

“If you don’t have a biological family or a foster family, no one sends you a care package. We didn’t want a student to go without one when everyone else was receiving one. So we were presented with the idea, and we hopped on board,” Cordova said.

Within no time, Oklahoma Baptists had put together 97 care packages for students at 32 different college campuses. Many students picked up their care package at the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) building on their campus.

This provided another way for the students to be loved and cared for, as they were able to meet students involved in their BCM.

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Items inside the care packages included school supplies, gift cards, snacks, a blanket and more. [Photo: Emily Howsden]

The program manager for Successful Adulthood Program reported back to the BGCO Women’s office. “They were so excited,” Cordova said, “and text me saying, ‘I got the care package today. It’s a literal duffel bag full of stuff.’”

Because of the great response from Oklahoma Baptists, Cordova said they plan to provide care packages again in May, during the spring finals week for college students and potentially more finals weeks in the future.

“This is just one element of caring for Oklahoma’s children. It ties in the initiative our state has so consistently driven home over the past few years emphasizing foster care. These children need us, and we want them to know we are here for them,” Cordova said.

More information about finals week care packages will be given at the Oklahoma Baptist Women’s Spring Retreat at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center in April. For more information, visit www.bgcowomen.org and “like” the Facebook page, “BGCO Women.”

Emily Howsden

Author: Emily Howsden

Emily Howsden is a contributing writer for the Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Emily Howsden.

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