Let me begin by wishing you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Festivus and lastly, Winter Solstice. Reaching the Winter Solstice means that each day will be a bit brighter than the last; we have made it through literally the darkest part of the year. Figuratively, we still have just a bit longer before the darkness grows brighter.
That thought of impending improvement has helped me because, let me be honest: It was a struggle writing a column this week. It has been hard to get into the “Christmas spirit” this year. I know there is hope on the horizon with the end of 2020 and a vaccine for COVID-19 being distributed in the first delivery stage to healthcare workers. The vaccine won’t be a quick fix, and we still have months where we will have to fight this dread disease, but at least we have hopefully turned a corner.
In normal years, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is spearheading OK Foster Wishes and assisting with the fulfillment of wish lists submitted by foster youth. This year, we had to adjust the mission to collect gift cards for foster parents and this running group homes to help them buy the gifts for the youth. This was done to limit volunteers and DHS staff to exposure to COVID-19. Needless to say, it was just not the same as witnessing an entire warehouse of toys and knowing thousands of young Oklahomans would see their desired gifts end up with them.
Despite that letdown, I need to look to the positives. We had hundreds of supporters this year supply donations to help those in need and those young people will still have a happy morning when they wake up and open presents. We helped make that happen, and so did those who contributed to our mission. Likewise, the same can be said about the many other programs out there doing similar work and their donors.
As we enter a new year, with new challenges yet unknown, we will still be battling the COVID-19 virus and all that it has caused. This season is meant to remind us that there is light even in darkness – no matter your faith tradition. Even if you don’t have one, the fact that each day will have more light for the next six months is another tangible reminder that there is light even in darkness. We must also sometimes intentionally focus on that light to help move away from the dark.
So, let me close this column with that wish for you: that no matter how dark times may be, there is light, there is hope. We Oklahomans have always been able to make a brighter future, no matter the darkness that has fallen, and I am confident we will again. So, I wish “Happy Holidays” to you all.
About OICA: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens seeking to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk. Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action and changing policy to improve the health, safety, and wellbeing of Oklahoma’s children.”