The With Love Project
The With Love Project
Story by Whitney Gilliard
The weather of the seasons changing can be brutally cold to the body—chilly air, the urge to just stay in your warm bed, and even the cold cheeks of walking into your car in the gusty wind. But as the seasons change, the weather is the least of a child’s worries when they are facing foster care. Instead, the concern turns into, “who am I going to spend the holidays with?”
Here at Gilliard and Company, we stand beside the children and families in foster care facing the hardships of the holidays. The choices of toys or light bills, how do I get my child to see Santa without a car, how am I able to feed them a holiday meal, and even down to managing the anxiety-ridden behavior obstacles that can tear our families apart.
With Love Project
Each year, Gilliard and Company's holiday initiative the With Love Project places a hands-on approach with foster care’s most vulnerable population. The short winter days turn into long nights as our team and community raise funds for our at-risk families, and we are open past office hours to be present for toy drive donations.
The initiative is to find a common location where families can be together again for the holidays. For a few hours, our children will be fed, there will be Christmas toys ready for them, there will be volunteers engaging in crafts, there will be peace, and there will be holiday joy.
While the planning takes abundant coordination, the results last a lifetime in the eyes of the children we serve that day. One of the most distinctive reminders of why this is an essential program is when we get to the eye levels of our children—we can see the restless days in their eyes, and the missed meals. Then when you look up and take a look around at their caregivers you can see that they are finally able to breathe... perhaps for the first time in the entire year.
We serve a population that is often cast away by our community—the at-risk families in jeopardy of seeing their children ripped away from their arms.
Each family that we serve in the With Love Project is referred by the Department of Children and Family Services. They have a record of doing their best and managing. As you read this article, it’s no surprise that we can reflect back into our own lives on the seasons when we needed a break or a hand-up. Their season is the season when Gilliard and Company's With Love Project returns.
How to Help
This year we need help with:
• Toy Drive
• Volunteering to play with our children
• Volunteering to help distribute gifts
• Got a Jeep? Join our Jeep Jingle where you can be Santa’s Sleigh for our kiddos!
Visit www.gilliardandcompany.org to learn more.