It is time once again to begin planning for our Teen Angel Outreach Program. The Teen Angel Outreach recruits sponsors to buy gifts for teens and young adults who in most cases would not receive gifts for Christmas if it weren’t for the kindness of these sponsors. Although “teen angel youth” may be in out-of-home placement and/or have a Caseworker with Adams County Children and Youth Services (ACCYS), these youth are not in foster homes with foster parents. Instead, they may be in group homes, shelters, residential facilities, receiving protective services or beginning to live their lives independently in their own apartments. Unfortunately, these youth are in situations where they may currently have limited supports. Each fall, youth selected to participate in the Teen Angel Outreach are asked to provide a “wish list” to their caseworkers. These lists consist of items that the youth would like to receive for Christmas. The youth ask for all types of items including such things as gloves, cleaning supplies, video games, sports equipment, books, clothing, electronic items, household items, and even laptops (for those taking college classes). Of course, when making their lists, the teens realize that this is only a “wish list” and they should not expect to get everything they ask for. It is always amazing that, many times, the sponsors do buy most of the items on the list. Last year we had 46 wish lists and all the youth received nearly everything they wished for.

As the Caseworkers receive the wish lists, our Teen Angel sponsor coordinator begins to contact previous sponsors and recruit new sponsors. At least 80 percent of our sponsors return to help with the project every year. Our sponsors come from all areas of the community. Many are church groups, groups of co-workers, women’s clubs and youth groups. Of course, there are also families and individuals too. One local family buys gifts for the Teen Angels program instead of exchanging gifts with each other. The committee tries to match the budget of the sponsor with the wish list and sometimes splits the lists between sponsors.

Gary Fox, Teen Angel Sponsor Coordinator, ACCYS Independent Living Advisory Council.

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