Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of year, but for the approximately 600 kids currently in the Washington County foster care program, it can be a difficult time.
They are separated from their biological families and perhaps wondering if they will even get any Christmas presents.
That is where the SCOTTY Foundation steps in. Its goal is to provide three gifts to each foster child in the system plus gifts for the foster parents’ own children, and this year again, several giving trees have been set up in Tigard for people to donate gifts from Nov. 15 to Dec. 15.
Andrea O’Connor started the SCOTTY Foundation in honor of her teenage son Scotty, who died while skateboarding and was not wearing a helmet. SCOTTY stands for Sponsoring Children of Today, Tomorrow and Yesterday, and O’Connor’s whole family, including five daughters, is involved in the program.
The other key person in the equation is Tigard resident Kathy Peper, who started the giving tree program to benefit the county’s foster children eight years ago. Tags with the children’s age and gift wish are hung on the trees, and people can take one, purchase the gift, and return the unwrapped gift and tag. Three Tigard locations have faithfully sponsored trees for several years, including HomeStreet Bank, Bonaventure and the Summerfield Civic Association.
The SCOTTY Foundation’s core belief is that everyone can positively impact the life of a child, and toward that end bring joy at Christmas. Foster families receive no extra funds for holiday gifts and have to spend their own money for these extras.
Peper has turned the gift-collection process into a well-oiled machine, especially in Summerfield. Two residents, Joan Carter and Lorain Carter, pick up the gifts daily and store them in their garage until they are collected for distribution.
“There were so many gifts last year from Summerfield – over 250 – that the set-up of the tree for a photo was too difficult,” Peper said. “I have arranged for a family to pick up the gifts from where they are stored during the collection period, load them in the car, take them to the Summerfield Clubhouse, unload the car and stage them for a photo of all the gifts around the tree.”
The family of volunteers includes dad Javier Ortiz, mom Laura Trujillo, 11-year-old twins Sophia and Valeria, and 3-year-old Emma.
The public is invited to pick up tags from any of the three trees when the facilities are open. Bonaventure is located at 15000 S.W. Hall Blvd.; HomeStreet Bank is located at 16230 S.W. Pacific Highway, Suite 140; and the Summerfield Civic Association Clubhouse is located at 10650 S.W. Summerfield Drive.
For more information, call Peper at (503)530-8888.