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December 24, 2008 > Christmas for All

Christmas for All

By Meenu Gupta

Alameda County Social Services Agency aimed to give a gift to bring holiday cheer and joy to each child in the foster care system. The Shirley Eastman Children's Fund is a public philanthropic venture that was established to support holiday giving and summer camp opportunities for children in foster care in Alameda County.

The fund is named after Shirley Eastman, to honor her dedication as a child welfare worker for over 50 years with the Alameda County Social Services Agency, Department of Children and Family Services. Ms. Eastman worked diligently in her career to build a network of contributors to help families during the holiday season and provide summer camp opportunities for children.

For the past several years the organization, through an annual holiday event, has ensured that every child in foster care receives either a holiday gift or a gift card at a Holiday Toy Store in Oakland. "I am pleased to let you know that we were successful in our endeavor and more than 3,000 children in Alameda County who are touched by our system received a gift," said Carol Collins, Assistant Agency Director.

"It was not just the toys; it was the ambience that was created with candy canes, teddy bears, and tin solders, line garland, draped walls finished with red velvet bows. Upon entering the toy store, the attention to detail was obvious; CFS staff also known as Santa's elves left nothing to chance," said Sylvia Soublet, Media Relations Officer.

The Toy Store, which closed its doors on Friday, was designed to fulfill holiday wishes of children up to 9 years old. Older foster youth also received gift cards to meet their more discriminating gift tastes. "All of this was made possible by the generous donations of community partners, individuals, and philanthropic organizations. Coordination
kudos go to CFS program managers: Faith Battles, Karen Benjamin Dozier, Sonya Frost, Gumaro Garay, Nicole Garay, Sally Lee, Jon Pettigrew, Cindy Rinker, Warren Turner, Sarah Wales, and CFS staff. The Department is still desperately in need of monetary donations." said Ms. Soublet.

"Carol Collins and her management team would like to thank all CFS staff who have worked so hard to make the holidays special for children and caregivers involved in the child welfare system. A special thanks to all of the contributors and community partners who make the Toy Store possible year after year," added Ms. Soublet.

Cash donations are still being accepted for the agency's various programs throughout the year. If you would like to make a cash donation, contact Nicole Garay at (510) 268-7970. For additional information about the Alameda County Social Services Agency, the Department of Children and Family Services, visit

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