NEW LEXINGTON — While families gear up to celebrate Thanksgiving with their loved ones, some children in Perry County are left alone. Some, who are in foster care, do not have the privilege of having a gracious Thanksgiving.
The New Lexington Fire Department held a Thanksgiving dinner for children in the custody of Perry County Children’s Services on Sunday afternoon to give those children something to be thankful for.
“The fire department has always been very attached to the kids of our community,” New Lexington Fire Chief Jim Fain told The Perry County Tribune. “We definitely have a greater appreciation for the folks that are in the Children’s Services process.”
Fain continued, stating that the department also wanted to show appreciation for those who take in foster children as they serve a vital part in the community as well as the children’s lives. The fire department as well as the Children’s Services started making preparation a year prior to holding the Thanksgiving dinner.
Assisting at the event were some members of the VFW Post 2806 who came to the department to help serve the foster youth.
November is nationally dedicated and properly named Adoption Month in recognition of those who are in the foster care system. Fain stated the intention was to host the dinner in the month of November to add to the awareness regarding foster care as well as the children within the system.
“That and being adoption month, it was just a great coincidence I think,” Fain stated.
The dinner was held at the New Lexington Fire Department on Sunday afternoon. Approximately 23 families attended the dinner event. The Perry County Children’s Services had expected more attendance; however, Chief Fain stated that the turnout was still a big success.
While the New Lexington Fire Department made the necessary preparation for the dinner, Children’s Services spent time reaching out to parents of foster children letting them know about the special dinner.
The local fire department had an abundance of food with local business entities donating food for the special occasion including donations from the local Kroger store and Dodson on Broadway as well as several different individuals who donated. Much of the donated food was leftover as the department had planned for close to 100 people attending. The leftover food was then donated to Fairview Assisted Living.
“The community really stepped up,” Fain stated. “We had a lot of great donations.”
Children as well as adults had free reign of smoked ham, smoked turkey, baked beans and brisket. There was an overabundance of food since the Perry County Children’s Services expected there to be more attendance. Even with the short numbers, the Thanksgiving dinner was enough to make some of the foster children express emotions of gratitude and excitement.
“It was very festive,” Fain described. “The kids loved it.”
Fain and other members of his department took the children on a tour of the firehouse. Some of the children were also able to tour the fire trucks giving them a perspective on how the local first responders do their jobs. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming with some guardians of foster children asking if the department would hold the event again next year.
“I know one lady came up and said that, this one little boy who couldn’t have been more than 10 years old, this is the best she’s seen him eat since he’s come into her care,” Fain stated.
Fain continued, stating that another foster child expressed to the members of the department that he wishes to come back next year for the Thanksgiving celebration. Chief Fain, along with staff at Perry County Children’s Services, are already working on plans for next year to make sure more community members know about the event.
“We are definitely going to be planning this again for next year,” Fain expressed. “I’m sure it’s going to be bigger and better than ever.”
Adoption Month as well as the Thanksgiving dinner at the local fire department means to bring awareness for children in the foster care system. For Fain, foster care and adoption is something that is very personal to Fain and his family. Fain and his wife adopted three boys in 2004.
“It was one of the greatest experiences that we could have ever hoped for,” Fain commented. “We want people to know that there are kids that need to be helped and taken care of and if anyway we can promote that, we will.”