Season of Giving: Local nonprofit spreads Christmas cheer to thousands of foster kids

SEATTLE -- This time of year a lot of kids are looking forward to waking up on Christmas morning and finding those gifts under the tree.

Unfortunately that’s not a given for kids in foster care in our state.

Most foster parents would love to give the kids they care for a happy holiday, but the resources are often not there.

That is where the local non-profit Treehouse comes in, and like Santa’s elves, they are doing everything they can to put a smile on the face of children right now.

Ann Huber, a former foster parent, now volunteers her time at Treehouse. She says the holidays can be especially tough for foster kids.

“They’re in a strange home, and they’ve been through some sort of trauma that has brought them into foster care,” said Huber.

Huber now helps organize donated gifts in what looks like a toy factory, with enough presents to go to all 5,000 foster kids around the state.

“I think receiving these gifts is even more special for them because a child living with their parents in a reasonable home expects Christmas, but our kids can’t expect Christmas because they don’t have anybody, and so this way, a new bike, a large set of legos, a wonderful baby doll, makes a huge difference.”

The toys, clothes and books are all new -- and all provided through donations.

They are also specific. Treehouse collects data from foster kids all over the state to see what they want for Christmas and also what they want to give to their loved ones.

“What we have is what we can give,” said Jessica Ross, the chief development officer at treehouse. “The way this store fills up is when the community responds and says I want to make sure all kids in our community have the same opportunity to celebrate.”

A group of social workers started Treehouse thirty years ago to help foster kids do better in their community, whether in school, or having a chance at after school activities like sports. And it’s working. Foster kids supported by Treehouse have a much higher graduation rate in the state.

This time of year the focus turns to gifts, and gift giving.

And it’s why Ann Huber puts in so many hours sorting and stocking gifts for foster kids, a gesture she says is powerful for everyone involved.

“It makes even the foster parent feel good that I can give my child what they really want for Christmas.”

Treehouse still needs donations and gift givers for this holiday season. Click here to help.