A Second Chance brings holiday joy to kids

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Christmas is a time for celebration, fun, fellowship, but most importantly family. While most kids will be opening their gifts on Christmas morning with their families in their homes, there are many kids that will not. Instead of being with their parents in their own homes, they will be with relatives or friends of the family. And instead of expensive clothes, video games and toys, some will be waking up to little or nothing.

TheJoyOfGiving
THE JOY OF GIVING—Staff members and volunteers help to separate gifts for kids at A Second Chance Inc. Holiday Celebration Dec. 15. From left: Micahla Parice, 14, of Plum; Audrey Pope, of Wilkinsburg; and Christine Watkins, of Penn Hills. (Photo by J.L. Martello)

In an effort to show that love comes from all types of places and to make the holiday special for those who may not be with their parents, A Second Chance Inc. held their annual Holiday Celebration, Dec. 15 at their Frankstown Avenue location.

“Because of the experience of loss these children have been through and it being Christmas time, this is just another way to put a smile on these children’s faces,” said Sharon McDaniel, president and CEO of A Second Chance. “Every last child will receive a toy, gift card or something.”

A Second Chance Inc. is a nonprofit agency that exclusively offers services and provides a safe, secure and nurturing environment to children of kinship foster care, which are children being cared for by relatives and close family friends.

“We know that trauma is reduced when children are placed with people they know,” said McDaniel.

A Second Chance was established in 1994 and now serves families in Allegheny County and Philadelphia. They are currently contracted with the Allegheny County Office of Children, Youth and Families and McDaniel said they are the first organization to exclusively deal with kinship foster care. Through their agency they offer education, mediation, counseling, supervision, referral services and more.

During the celebration, children were able to enjoy great snacks, pictures with Santa and gifts from the agency.

Although A Second Chance has held toy drives since it began, McDaniel said, this is the first year that the Pittsburgh location has partnered with Toys For Tots. Along with Toys for Tots, A Second Chance also partnered with UPMC Health Plan, and several other businesses and organizations.

“We have great partnerships that see our mission,” said McDaniel.

Due to the shared efforts of the agency and its partners, this year more than 2,200 children received gifts from the toy drive, approximately 900 of them from Pittsburgh.

Along with its partners, McDaniel credits her staff for the success of the event. “Our staff is some of the most dedicated people. Not only do they give during this time (the holiday season), but also throughout the year. It is beyond a paycheck for them, they believe in the mission,” she said.

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