Holiday wish-list gifts for teens can help them make a transition

Editor's note: Light One Candle is an annual series sponsored by the Mail Tribune that focuses on an individual, group or agency that could use a helping hand during the holiday season. Once that need is filled, donations may be distributed to others in need.

Children aging out of foster care get some tools from Community Works as they journey into adulthood. But a few luxuries could help these teens explore their world, attain their goals or just feel special.

Art supplies are the wish of several clients of Community Works' Independent Living Program, which assists 14- to 21-year-olds in their efforts to gain employment, education and housing.

Painting and drawing help a 17-year-old girl work through abuse that she and five younger siblings suffered in their former home. Entering foster care this past year, the oldest girl and her sisters were placed with different families. Making the transition even tougher, she changed school districts to finish the academic year in Medford.

The girl would make good use of some canvases and pastel paints. Since taking a digital photography class, she dreams of having her own camera.

Photography also is the pastime of a 16-year-old girl who has been in foster care for the past eight years because her parents abuse alcohol. The girl's home in rural Jackson County affords opportunities for snapping shots of mountains and wildlife. She also dreams of a digital camera and would prize art supplies.

A 19-year-old woman formerly in foster care wants art supplies for her 3-year-old son, who adores drawing and anything artistic. Studying at Southern Oregon University to become a teacher, the woman is the first in her family to graduate from high school. Between taking classes, working part time at a restaurant and caring for her son, she has little time to enjoy herself and would relish a gift certificate for a manicure or massage.

College also is the goal of a 17-year-old girl who entered foster care as an infant born to parents with severe mental-health issues. This senior at a Medford high school plans to attend SOU next year but needs some new clothes, which she could purchase with a gift card to Ross Dress for Less or another store.

Also planning to attend college, a 17-year-old Ashland boy wants to be a social-services case worker to help others like him. In foster care because his parents abuse drugs, the teen loves music and could enjoy it even more with an MP3 player and headphones.

To help these teens, call case manager Matthew Brody at 541-779-2393, ext. 245.

Reach reporter Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or

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