Foster Family Support Group's Christmas Event has Record Turnout

By Forrest Saunders, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A Cedar Rapids foster family support group had its largest Christmas celebration ever, Saturday afternoon.

In the past, nonprofit Families Helping Families has hosted around 300 at their annual Family Christmas Celebration. This year, registrations alone topped more than 460.

"We're here to help as many kids as we possibly can," said founder of Families Helping Families, Leanne Loehr.

Loehr said the Cedar Rapids based group helps provide foster kids with everything from shoes, to scholarships. She said family events, like Saturday's, were just as important.

"It's Christmas and every kid deserves to have fun at Christmas time," Loehr said.

To make sure kids did have a good time, the event at the Hawkeye Downs South Expo Hall had games, activities and plenty of free food.

"They look forward to it every year. They get to see their friends. We do a lot of respite care on weekends. We watch other people's kids. They get to see those kids again, kind of reconnect with the friends they otherwise wouldn't see," said foster parent, Jen Rowray.

Families Helping Families was started in 2004. In the last fiscal year it helped more than 1,700 people. Officials said in that same time they've also seen a 34% increase in their services.
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