By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Agape hosts Christmas party for foster kids
Isuara Roots checks on the lasagna before it’s served to the families Tuesday night at the Agape Villages holiday dinner at Ripon’s Almond Community Church. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
RIPON – It’s going to be somewhat of a difficult Christmas this year for boys and girls in the South  County that are spending their first holiday away from loved ones after being placed in foster care.

But Agape Villages is doing everything possible to make sure that the kids have a happy and healthy Christmas with their foster families this year.

Tuesday night, almost 40 kids packed into Almond Community Church in Ripon for the organization’s annual Christmas dinner held each year to honor the families that help drive the Agape vision and allow the new families to bond together in a holiday atmosphere.

Individual businesses in and around San Joaquin County – like the Ford Distribution Center in Manteca – donated toys that the kids will be able to open and enjoy on Christmas morning. The kids are also given presents that they can place under the tree for their foster parents to ensure that everybody has something to smile about.

“What’s great about this event is that Santa comes, and everybody gets presents and gets to sit down and have dinner as a family,” said Senior Vice President of Outreach Joann Beattie. “It’s a tough time of year for the kids, and we try to do as much as possible to make it as smooth as possible. We’re thankful to private donors and charities like Toys for Tots that help us make sure that the kids have a great Christmas.”

According to Beattie, there are nearly 40 foster kids in the Manteca area that will be spending the holidays in a new environment. While some of the kids are going to experience their second or third holiday with their foster family, there are those who will be waking up Christmas morning to people who are veritable strangers.

By holding events like the one Tuesday night in Ripon, she said, the kids get a better chance to know the parents and learn to have a good time before the actual holiday itself arrives.

“This is a happy time for the kids, and in a lot of instances these kids haven’t had a happy time for a while,” said Isuara Roots. “It’s great to be able to see the joy in the smiles on the children’s faces because they come from situations that are stressful and not always the greatest. To see them flourishing in an environment like this makes all of the work worth it.”