LUBBOCK, Texas — The holidays are for time spent at home with family, but for many children in the foster care system, this time of year can be tough. For kids nearing the age of 18, aging out of the system can bring a whole new set of worries.
“I was put in the system as a kid due to neglect and abandonment,” Justine Sartor explained. “Holidays like this, you really don’t feel like you have anyone.”
Sartor is now a teenager with a 3-year-old daughter.
“I was having to figure out on my own how to be the best I could be, rather than what I had as a kid,” she said. “Being a parent, you really want to do better than what you knew and you had. I was like, I really want to get my GED and start college.”
7 months ago, Sartor found the Buckner FYi Center. They provide resources for kids transitioning to adulthood.
“When you are 18 and leave home, where do you go for Christmas break? Where do you go to do laundry on the weekend? Who’s there for you?” asked Buckner Transitional Services Supervisor Bekah Coggins. “For these youth, it’s the FYi center. That’s what we want to do for them. I tell people, we are kind of their momma’s.”
They help the kids with jobs and applications, filling out student aid forms, and even things as simple as laundry.
Buckner volunteers also collected and wrapped Christmas gifts for all of the kids, and their children too.
“They might have just asked for a pair of house shoes, but someone took that off the tree and got them a really great, comfortable pair of house shoes,” Coggins said.
With the help of a Buckner case worker and the resources at the center, Sartor said she got her GED, her own apartment, and plans to go to college next year.
“Once you step into Buckner, you’re home,” Sartor said.
Buckner needs donations and help all year round. They are already looking ahead to their Hope Chest event, where Buckner staff and volunteers take older foster kids on a shopping spree to help them with their first apartments.
For more information on the Hope Chest and Bucker: