Hundreds of gifts are collected for youth served by the Jamison Children’s Center by local businesses and groups including the Aera Black Employee Network
About 20 Kern County youth will likely spend Christmas Day at Jamison Children’s Center, a 24-hour emergency shelter and protective custody facility operated by the Kern County Department of Human Services.
Every year, local businesses and groups step forward to collect hundreds of gifts for the center’s Holiday Toy Drive to make sure the children aren’t left empty handed during the holidays and throughout the year. About 300 of those gifts are donated by Aera employees, as part of a collection drive coordinated by the Aera Black Employee Network (ABEN), an employee resource group at Aera Energy.
“ABEN has always been dedicated to supporting our communities,” said Aera Process Specialist Anthony Bassey, and chair of ABEN. “We are privileged to have the opportunity to provide gifts to youth who may be in transition or in an uncertain place during the holiday season and throughout the year. Hopefully this helps make their stop at the center a little brighter. This is a tradition our group cherishes and will continue to participate in for years to come.”
The center says more than 1,400 youth, most under the age of 12, have come through the facility since Jan. 1. The toy donations are distributed during the holidays and throughout the year to encourage activity participation; advancement in the center’s behavior-modification program; to celebrate birthdays, graduations; and when kids leave Jamison. Gifts are also given to children placed in foster homes who are waiting to be reunited with their loved ones, and as special gifts for foster parents to present to foster children during visitation times.
“We are honored to be recipients of our community’s love, kindness, and generosity to one of the most vulnerable populations our world has – our children,” said Alexandra Nuno, an activities coordinator for the center. “Our community’s support reaches far beyond the holidays, and although I cannot speak for the children in our care, I can see their delight in the gifts they receive. It does not take the place of their desire to return home but provides them some happiness and warmth while they are away.”