PINEVILLE -- Alli Wylly and Kathy Smith, co-directors of Angel Tree of McDonald County, will not only restart Angel Tree in the county this year but will offer foster families a free shopping space to fulfill foster needs.
Alli Wylly, co-director of Angel Tree of McDonald County, said she and Smith are working on building a resource bank for foster families to make the process of fostering children easier and more manageable.
"We have been praying for months about the building," Wylly said. "Our heart was to really have a place where foster families can go and get assistance. The first immediate goal for that is simply to be there for families that are taking in foster kids."
Wylly said, if a family is called on to take a foster child in, they can contact either Wylly or Smith to visit the building to get clothing items, school supplies, suitcases, and other items children entering a new household may need.
"We will also offer, for families, if they need a car seat, or if they need a crib for an incoming child," Wylly said. "That's not always something that you can just go out and buy that day. They can check those items out and check them back in when they no longer have a need for them."
Angel Tree, the Christ-focused ministry, is currently working to encourage more county families to foster children, so children do not have to be removed from their schools after being removed from their families.
"We've gotten email after email that says, 'Hey guys, we need a placement for kids or they're going to get sent to Joplin or Springfield if we don't find a placement for them today because there's nobody else to take them,'" Wylly said, noting she and her husband are working to prepare their basement to foster children in the area. "They're not only being taken from their homes, but they're being pulled out of their schools, away from their teachers and their friends, and the only things that they know."
Wylly said one of her goals is to encourage families to take foster students so they may remain in the county. Wylly noted that offering things foster families may need will ease the process.
Wylly added that she is not aware of a service offered like this any closer than Carthage and Carl Junction.
Kathy Smith, co-director of Angel Tree of McDonald County, said anyone can donate to the foster building, noting many churches have chosen to get involved and offer donations.
"We are hoping, we're not sure when, to be able to have a not-for-profit closet with items that foster families would need for any of the children that come into their homes, for especially McDonald County," Smith said.
Smith said donations must be gently used, and goods can be donated that are suited for children from birth to 18 years of age. Smith said things such as clothes, diapers, and school supplies would be useful items to collect.
Smith said many families who take foster children don't have much notice or time to prepare for children, emphasizing the importance of offering needed items.
"We would like to be able to ease the burden for these families and these children," Smith said. "A lot of times this happens with very little notice and very little ability to plan for their needs. And we would like to be able to be there to supply what they unexpectedly realize they are needing to buy for these children."
Wylly and Smith said if anyone would like more information on the foster initiative or would like to donate items, they can be contacted on their Angel Tree of McDonald County Facebook page or by emailing [email protected]