A local non-profit group is trying to ensure kids from families with troubled backgrounds can have a good Christmas.
Volunteers with the Mothers and Children in Crisis group are putting together winter gear and other essentials for kids who have had parents in the Onondaga County court system.
“There are thousands of people in Onondaga County who are struggling with substance abuse. Thousands. There’s more than 900 enrolled in methadone maintenance. Of that 900, there’s about 450 children. We have a problem,” said Mothers and Children in Crisis President Mary Jensen.
Jensen and her team of volunteers has made it their mission to help the helpless: Central New York children whose parents are trying to get their lives back on track.
“About a month ago, we contacted all the case managers of the treatment courts, asked them for their list of children, that needed coats, or boots, or food,” said Jensen.
These days, Jensen’s basement looks more like an assembly line. Donations from the community allowed her group to buy what’s needed for kids who have parents are in and out of the court system.
“Under normal circumstances, pre-COVID, we would have a party for them. And, this year, we had a back to school event which we normally have every year now. And, we ended up delivering to the homes the majority of the things we donated, so we’ll probably be doing that again this year,” said Mothers and Children in Crisis volunteer Kathy Fanella.
The group is also working with the Holy Cross and All Saints Churches to help give underprivileged kids a little better Christmas. While this effort is important, it's just part of the overall mission.
Jensen said there are no in-patient substance abuse treatment facilities in the county where women can live with their kids while they are treated. She said facilities like the Lighthouse Center in Buffalo or Serenity Place in Greenville South Carolina work with community partners to provide critical services.
“We want better for the families of Central New York. We want to get the message out there that these families matter, too. There are thousands of kids in our county that need our support. We can do this. We can link arms and lift these families up,” said Jensen.
These volunteers are advocating for a treatment facility, while they continue taking baby steps to help local families. That help is appreciated during the holidays in a year that has been like no other.
Jensen said more people are encouraged to get involved with Mothers and Children in Crisis. You can learn about volunteer opportunities or their overall goal of a residential center by visiting MCCSyracuse.org.