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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, June 21, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesOff-Island Foster Kids Due for Treats from Home

Off-Island Foster Kids Due for Treats from Home

Janet Turnbull-Krigger (left) and Vinette Garfield decorate boxes for "Treats From Home."Virgin Islands foster children living elsewhere will soon be reminded of home with packages sent from the Virgin Islands Department of Human Services “Treats From Home” committee.

The new committee came about through a series of holiday circumstances. Each year, Human Services’ holiday committee has a fundraising contest in which employees raise money to pay for the department’s holiday party, with 10 percent of the proceeds to a different division each year. The employees who raise the most, one male and one female, are crowned queen and king of Human Services.

This year’s queen is Vinette Garfield, a human resources generalist. After being crowned queen, Garfield decided she wanted to get more involved with the foster care division of Human Services, the recipient of this year’s raised funds, so she contacted Human Services Administrator for Children and Family Services Janet Turnbull-Krigger.

Krigger had the idea for “Treats From Home” brewing in her mind for a long time. All she needed was Garfield’s enthusiasm to put it into action, and the “Treats From Home” committee was formed. Their goal was to put together packages for Virgin Islands foster care children who were no longer living in the territory. Some of the children have been sent to facilities on the mainland and others relocated with their foster families when the families moved off-island.

According to Krigger, her division has 32 children under their care who are not living in the territory but there are many more under the care of the Virgin Islands Departments of Education and Health. The boxes will go to those 32 children in the foster care system.

“I remember when I was away at college and would receive packages from my family at home,” said Krigger. “It was the best feeling!”

Krigger recruited Human Services employees from other divisions and other islands, including Dr. Celia Victor, Hazel Lloyd, Ingrid Banuelos and Garfield, as part of her campaign to bring awareness to the plight of foster children in the territory and the committee got to work. Both Lloyd and Banuelos work in the Human Services St. Croix office; Victor and Garfield are in the St. Thomas office.

With donations of shoeboxes from Payless Shoes, scraps of material from Blinds-N-Tings and arts and crafts supplies from Island Fair, committee members have decorated the boxes themselves for the children to treasure as keepsakes, covering them with colorful material and adding bright cutouts of palm trees, houses and other fun shapes.

Inside the festive boxes are treats to remind them of home: coconut tarts from Lyria’s Tailoring and Homemade Goodies on St. Croix, cookies made by Lydia Rhymer, sweetbreads, sugar cakes, jawbreakers and a CD of island images set to the sweet sounds of steel pan. Each box also includes a handmade card with a personal message from the child’s counselor.

Victor said, “We thought it would be good not only for the kids to be reminded of home, but also for the staff in stateside facilities to learn about the children’s culture.”

“Most important, though,” Victor continued, “is that we want them to know that even though they’re not home, we are there in their hearts. They are not forgotten.”

The “Treats From Home” boxes will be sent out Jan. 4 in time for Three Kings Day along with a handout explaining the Three Kings Day holiday and what it means to Virgin Islanders. The committee plans to send another set of boxed treats in May, designated as Fostercare Month, and will start putting them together in April.

Krigger would love to engage a youth group to get involved in the “Treats From Home” project and would give the youth community service credits.

“This is the first year that we are doing this,” said Krigger, “and I hope that it will continue long after I am gone and I will still be a part of it.”

Anyone willing to donate toward shipping costs or help with the project can e-mail Krigger at turnbullkrigger@yahoo.com or call 774-0930 ext. 4392.

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