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South Carolina Department of Social Services

V. Susan Alford, State Director  

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HALOS is A Blessing - Turning Help into HOPE!

Published Thursday, January 31, 2013 8:00 AM.

HALOS is A Blessing - Turning Help into HOPE!

The holiday season at Charleston County Department of Social Services is a thing to behold. There are two local nonprofit organizations as well as the coordination and fundraising efforts of Charleston County DSS (CCDSS) staff that make this possible each year.

HALOS, a local nonprofit organization with a mission to provide resources and special opportunities to abused and neglected children, has partnered with CCDSS since 1997 to provide holiday gifts to children involved with cases of abuse and/or neglect. HALOS develops relationships with faith and community groups, businesses and individuals that sponsor children. The sponsor receives basic information on the child, including gender, age, and two wishes. In 2008, HALOS expanded to include gifts for children who are in kinship families-being raised by a relative or "kin" rather than their parents. These children do not necessarily have open DSS cases, but the caregivers are involved in HALOS' Kinship Care Program. Two years ago, HALOS began working with Berkeley and Dorchester County DSS offices to provide holiday gifts through local partners in those communities. This year, HALOS sponsored 1,800 children and 22 families through these partnerships in the tri-county area.

The HALOS staff, donors, and CCDSS work together to ensure that all children celebrate the holiday. CCDSS staff goes above and beyond the demands of their own duties to work with HALOS staff to coordinate the huge project. The CCDSS Christmas Committee comprised of one member from each Human Services unit and co-chaired by supervisors Telly Palm and Mosetta Clark take over the gift distribution once the HALOS gift drop is complete. In addition to working with HALOS, the Christmas Committee raises their own funds by holding bake sales, fish fry, etc. to ensure that all children in foster care and child protective services have a happy holiday. Members of the committee then shop for children and deliver the gifts, sometimes up through Christmas Eve.

Case workers report that relationships with uncooperative clients change after gifts are delivered to the family. They begin to view DSS more positively and see caseworkers as trying to help them. One case worker said, “I have a client who refused to answer the phone when I called. Now she calls me!” Many families said this was the best Christmas their children ever had or will ever have. Caseworkers received many tearful phone messages from parents and grandparents expressing their gratitude.

The Palmetto Project is another organization that supports families involved with Charleston County DSS for the holidays. Its Families Helping Families program in cooperation with WCIV-TV News 4 recruited sponsors who adopted eighty (80) families from Charleston County DSS Family Independence Program. DSS staff loaded hundreds of gifts onto a rental truck and brought them to the same meeting room which was “empty” once again. Other initiatives such as WCSC Channel 5 Debbie’s Kids, Salvation Army and Toys for Tots provide gifts to children throughout the community.  The families who received gifts were overwhelmed by the benevolence of those in the community who gave so generously. One young teen boy said, “I can’t believe someone I never even met would buy this for me.”

As you will see from the attached pictures, Before, there was an empty room waiting for the big HALOS Gift Drop Off event. After, the room was filled beyond capacity with gifts, bikes and toys; so many that one had trouble walking among them. The Result was hundreds of smiling children who had joyous, exciting holidays.



Kim Clifton, HALOS Executive Director
Pam Brooks, Charleston County DSS Community Resource Coordinator
 

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