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Pictured: A bike purchased by an SJS advisory waiting to be donated to a foster child.
While most kids are thinking about what to buy their friends for Secret Santa, St. John’s Upper School students have something else on their mind: their BEAR project gifts.
BEAR is an organization that works with thousands of children in Child Protective Services (CPS) across the greater Houston area. Providing necessities such as toiletries, diapers, and school supplies, BEAR serves to protect and provide for these kids. The BEARing Gifts program is their largest initiative and invites individuals and organizations to sponsor a child in Child Protective Services by purchasing requested toys and gifts.
For St. John’s School Community Service Director, Marci Bahr, the idea of sponsoring foster children has been running in the family ever since her childhood. Before Bahr was born, her parents acted as foster parents for children suffering abuse.
“The stories of physical and mental anguish that they [her parents] told my siblings and me growing up remain with me,” Bahr said.
For me personally, it means a lot to be able to provide Christmas gifts for children at risk. Living in our chaotic, fast-paced world, it’s easy to forget the problems that those around us face. BEAR has allowed me to step back and give back to my community in a meaningful way.
This year, my advisory received a request for board games from our BEAR child, however, each advisory sponsor a different child with different needs. I recently saw members of another advisory assembling a bike for their child. It’s amazing to see the SJS community come together around the holiday season to work with an organization that provides resources for incredibly deserving children.
“The BEAR program provides me a great opportunity to give back to the community and help a child this Christmas season,” junior Lyndon Way said.
For Bahr, BEAR has been one of her passions ever since it arrived at St. John’s.
“When we started sponsoring kids through BEAR, I knew I wanted to be involved,” Bahr said. “I try to put myself in their shoes, and it's impossible to imagine their plight. If we can do anything to brighten their lives, it is the least we can do!”