Christmas in July

Laura Wendt, a caseworker with Family Based Safety Services, right, and administrator Inga Guenther pick donation cards off a Christmas tree during a Foster Love Bell County kick off of its Christmas in July event in 2017 at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services office in Temple.

Foster Love Bell County is bringing some early Yuletide cheer to the area with the third annual Christmas in July fundraiser.

This year, 40 businesses around the county have set up Christmas trees decorated with red, white and blue ornaments and donation cards containing information about how to donate to Foster Love. Supporters can take a card and mail it in with their donation, or they can follow the instructions on the card to submit their contribution online. The trees will be set up until the end of the month, and all donations are tax-deductible.

Candace Cartwright, founder of Foster Love Bell County, said last year’s fundraiser brought in about $13,500. She said this year more businesses participating in Christmas in July than ever have before.

In February, Foster Love Bell County opened its new property at 1003 N. Main St. in Belton, which serves as an office, conference space and temporary housing for foster children waiting for placement. Cartwright said one of the goals is to continue building on that success.

“One of our big focuses is really, since we opened up the Foster Love House, is continuing and sustaining that,” she said. “So that is kind of our big focus at the moment and will continue to be into the new year, just because there’s been so much – not just interest – but it’s just filling so many needs within the system, and so we will continue to pour into that.”

She said they are also looking into hiring another person, so they can expand their availability. She also said they are in the works of developing an educational advocacy program to help foster kids in the school system.

 “Kids change schools so often throughout their course in foster care, and a lot of times their educational needs get dropped or missed or not followed through on from district to district,” Cartwright said. “So this person would be there to make sure that they aren’t being missed in any way in the academic realm.”

Since the Foster Love House is located right on Belton’s Fourth of July Parade route, Cartwright said they decided to kick off the fundraiser with a cook-off event during the parade for board members, “Love of the Month” award-winners and their families.

Cartwright wanted to give a “huge thank you” to all Foster Love supporters.

 “A lot of times we get the question of ‘How much state funding do you receive?’ and the answer is absolutely nothing,” she said. “So everything we do is community-driven and community-funded, so this is really the lifeblood of who we are. We can’t sustain and do anything further without these donations, so we are so truly thankful to the community for their generosity.”

Businesses hosting Christmas Trees this year are:

QTL Dental

Smallcakes

Omega Builders

Titan Total Training

Old Jody’s Restaurant

Willow Salon

McGuire Tire - Belton

Exchange on Central

Re/Max – Temple and Belton

Good Life Café and Bakery

Impact Therapy Solutions

Crossroads Church – Belton

Temple Police Department

Pig and Pickle Food Truck

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop – Temple

Cedar Crest hospital and RTC

Smile at the World Orthodontics

Fellowship Baptist Church – Morgan’s Point Resort

Central Texas Baseball Academy

Fire Street Pizza

Chick-Fil-a – Temple

Whimsie’s Boutique

Callie’s Boutique

Belton RV Park

Barrow Brewery

La Lucheonette

Temple Bible Church

JNeely’s Burrito Bar

Amy’s Attic – Belton, Salado, Harker Heights and Killeen

Nami Japanese Steak & Sushi – Temple and Belton

Oppose Gravity Performance Training

Pediatric Therapy Works

Bold Republic Brewery

State Farm – Lauren Smith

The Wood Group of Fairway

Faith Baptist Church – Belton