The Target store in North Austin was on alert that the Ocasio family was on its way. The nine boys and three girls, ages three to 14, were en route to select their new wardrobes, a semi-annual occasion that brings high excitement to the kids and their foster parents alike.
A generous grant from the Beaumont Foundation of America (BFA) makes this all possible. BFA provides school clothing for the approximately 1,600 children LSS serves in foster care and its three residential treatment centers in Texas each year. A provision of the grant is that the children are allowed to select their own clothing twice a year.
While a shopping trip with 12 kids in tow sounds like utter chaos, the Target outing was remarkably organized and orderly, a byproduct of the guidance and leadership of experienced foster parents Wilfredo and Dimarie Ocasio. The Ocasios have two biological sons at home and didn’t start out fostering 10 kids at a time. “We went into fostering with the idea of adopting a child, and we have since adopted three,” Wilfredo Ocasio said. He and Dimarie discovered they had the desire, along with enough love (and energy!) to help many more deserving children experience lives in a stable loving home, and moved to a bigger house to accommodate and help more kids. He admits it’s a challenge, but says “It’s well worth it when you put them to bed at night and they say things like “I love you … thanks Dad!”
Before embarking on the trip to Target, the Ocasio family met at the LSS offices to meet Frank Newton, chief executive officer of the Beaumont Foundation, and his wife Nancy, who accompanied the group on their shopping spree. While the kids enjoyed a snack, Newton presented the clothing grant check to Betsy Guthrie, president and chief operating officer of Lutheran Social Services.
Upon arrival at Target, the kids grabbed their baskets, and with the help of the Newtons, older sons Miguel and Jonathan, LSS family service worker Katie Bowman, and grant writer Cecelia Blanford, headed to their favorite departments. When their red baskets were filled, the kids reteamed at the Target/Starbucks café area and were treated to popcorn, drinks, and dessert smoothies.
No doubt about it, this is one shopping trip that hit the Target bullseye.
Note: Interested in finding out if you have the “right stuff” to become a foster parent? Go to our Foster In Texas (FIT) website to learn all about it, or call 877-747-8110.