Gifts Being Delivered by OJA Staff to Youth in Agency Custody
Mike Seals - December 22, 2020 9:49 am
OKLAHOMA CITY, Dec. 22, 2020—More than 200 youth in the custody of the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) are being remembered by Santa Claus this year.
OJA staff members are working with the Santa Claus Commission to make sure the youth spending Christmas in the 12 group homes across the state that have contracts with OJA and the agency’s two secure-care treatment facilities are remembered during the holiday season. The gifts will be distributed to 155 youth in community-level placements and 65 in OJA’s secure-care centers in Tecumseh and Manitou.
OJA staff wrapped gifts for the youth, and are now delivering them. The gifts, some of which were suggested by OJA youth to the commission, were purchased with funds provided by the commission, which was formed in 1937. Each year, the Santa Claus Commission delivers gifts to youth in the care of OJA. The commission is managed by OJA and is responsible for the purchase and distribution of gifts as part of Title 10, Section 361 of the Oklahoma Statutes. Public funds are not used to purchase gifts. The commission currently operates from private donations and collects interest from the dollars currently available in the Santa Claus Commission Fund.
“Youth in the care of OJA should be remembered during the holidays, and providing gifts to them is a way to let our youth feel appreciated and loved,” said OJA Executive Director Rachel Holt. “We hope the gifts also remind the youth that we care about them all the time. This has been a difficult year for everyone because of the pandemic so these gifts hopefully provide some cheer to our youth, especially during the holidays when it can be stressful to be away from family and friends.”
Each child received a backpack, coloring book, composition book, photobook, a chocolate bar, fruity candy, lip balm, fuzzy socks and body wash. OJA youth in group homes each also received a pack of colored pencils and a $20 gift card, Oklahoma Credit Union donated the activation cost for all the cards. Secure-care youth received $20 applied to their canteen account, an individually directed fund that allows the youth to purchase facility-approved items such as candy, soft drinks and hygiene products. Instead of colored pencils, youth in secure care received additional snacks.
Oklahoma’s Credit Union is waiving the usual processing fee for the gift cards.
“We understand the importance of supporting Oklahoma kids and applaud the Office of Juvenile Affairs for making this positive impact through the Santa Claus Commission,” said Oklahoma’s Credit Union Chief Marketing Officer Jennifer Lown. “Our teams will certainly miss sharing smiles and passing out the gift cards in person this year.”