A program that provides Christmas presents for some of the county's less fortunate children needs more help this year.
The Cherokee County Department of Family and Children Services' Secret Santa Program needs more sponsors to purchase Christmas gifts for children in the county's foster system.
Ann Feczko, the program's coordinator, said she's expecting Secret Santa to serve about 200 foster children this year. That number, she said, has been hovering in that range for the last few years.
“We always have teens who need sponsors,” she said.
The program involves foster children, who remain anonymous during the entire process, writing down three things they need and three things they want for Christmas. DFCS and Secret Santa personnel then match those lists with sponsors, who also remain anonymous.
Along with purchasing gifts for children during the holiday season, the program also uses donations to allow foster children to participate in sports programs and school events.
Feczko said the program had a few glitches that's slowed them down in getting enough sponsors for the year, including the website's domain expiring and some people having a hard time getting through to her when they contact DFCS.
The organization is expected to have its website launch early next year, Feczko said. It also recently created a Facebook page and is in the process of letting the community at large know about their needs.
Before the Great Recession hit the county about four years ago, Feczko said the program would raise about $7,000 each year. However, the last four years have seen donations range from $3,000 to $4,000 each year. Last year, Feczko said donors contributed about $4,000.
The number of children in foster care throughout the county can vary from 180 to 220 in any given year, Feczko added.
Feczko said she hopes a few setbacks won't leave the county's foster children without a merry Christmas.
"I just feel like it’s a matter of getting the world out," she said. "Cherokee County has always taken care of these kids.”
For more information about the program or to find out how to become a sponsor, call the Secret Santa hot line at (678) 427-9393.