Foster Teens Experience Love of Christ

Alumni impact Orange County Children’s Foundation through holiday event

Dec. 22, 2009 By Jenna Bartlo

The teenagers at the Orange County Children’s Foundation often don’t have families of their own. Many have been placed in foster care for their own safety, having experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse by their parents. Christmas, for most of them, has not typically been a joyful time of year.

But over the last few years, with generosity, love, and the help of some friends, Biola University alumnus Steve Miller (’03) has touched their lives by offering them a different kind of Christmas.

Three years ago, Miller prayed with a friend about helping orphans in some way, but was unsure as to what organization to pursue. Three days later, Pamela Cutchlow, executive director for OCCF, arrived at his office, seemingly by coincidence.

“It came up in conversation that she is a foster care executive director of 24 kids,” said Miller. “I asked her if she needed help that Christmas and she said, ‘Well, yes, the state budget is low, which makes it hard to have Christmas. But there are 24 kids, so I don’t know what you can do.’”

Miller gathered 20 friends and showed up at the foster home with gifts for each of the teenagers, giving them what they said was a Christmas they will never forget.

For the second year, a larger fundraising event for OCCF was held in place of the original event where they took gifts to the foster home. More than 100 people attended the event, supporting and giving to OCCF to help offer the teenagers a Christmas holiday.

This year, approximately 20 Biola alumni assisted in coordinating the fundraiser, held on Dec. 12, 2009 at The Colony at Fashion Island. The Christmas party fundraiser included appetizers, refreshments and dessert with a minimum donation of $20 at the door. The money raised will not only contribute to Christmas gifts for the foster kids, but also towards their basic needs throughout the year.

“It’s amazing how so many strangers come together to help us,” said Nataly R., one of the teenagers at OCCF. “Sometimes me and the girls talk about how surprising it is that even though we don’t have families there for us during the holidays, we have all these angels helping us.”

In addition to impacting those at OCCF, the fundraiser impacts those in attendance, Miller said.

“As it has progressed over the years I see this as an outreach, not only for them, but also for all of the people we invite,” said Miller. “It’s inspiring for fellow Christians and it is a ministry to unbelievers.”

“I can see no greater joy than the knowledge that we are being used as vessels for God’s kingdom through this event every year,” he added.

Miller said he hopes the teenagers can experience the knowledge that they can be part of a larger family in God’s kingdom — despite their current family situations.

“It means so much to me to get gifts from people who don’t even know me,” said Javon H., one of the teens at OCCF. “This time of year can be hard since I can’t be with my family. But getting a gift from you is like a special type of blessing and it makes me feel happy from the bottom of my heart. I’m sure you guys have your own families so it means even more knowing you took the time to do this for us.”

Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at jenna.l.bartlo@biola.edu.

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