Foster children provided Christmas presents

Published 3:36 pm Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dr. John Irwin and staff of Irwin Family Clinic presented staff from the Chilton County DHR with a check from the clinic's patients's donations and Dr. Irwin to the Christmas Wishes program for foster children at DHR. Left to right: Cathy Stephens, Taneel Ellison, Marilyn Colson, Dr. Irwin, Terry Hadden, Sandra Ellis, Tamela Minor and Jamie Benson.

Foster children in Chilton County were able to have Christmas presents for the holidays due to sponsors who gave gift items or monetary donations in December.

Director of the Chilton County Department of Human Resources Marilyn Colson said the agency often faces the ongoing worry toward the end of November about whether the needs of the children will be met for Christmas.

“We always start to wonder if we will be able to meet all of the needs but each year, the Chilton County community and even those from other areas come through and overwhelm us with their generosity,” Colson said in a release.

Colson said it was particularly encouraging this year with the recent loss of innocent children in Connecticut to know that the people of Alabama continued to value the lives of their children.

“Although everyone cannot become foster parents, a network of individual citizens, teachers, civic organizations, businesses, school clubs, churches and Bible classes come together to make Christmas special for these children who cannot be with their own families during this special time of year,” Colson said.

Colson said more foster homes are always needed as foster families adopt and often drop out of the foster home “pool.”

“We had 17 children adopted by their foster parents last year,” Colson said. “Our goal is to have enough foster homes that we can make good matches between the foster children and the foster homes available.”

Colson said one touching example of support came from Sylcauaga and the family of Phillip Vick.

“Phillip and his wife Joette were foster parents in Shelby County to over 60 children before his untimely death in 2006,” Colson said. “Prior to his death, Phillip had commented that instead of flowers at his funeral that he would want bicycles to be given to foster children.”

Colson said Phillip’s wishes were honored during his funeral where at the front of the church there were colorful bicycles.

Phillip’s brother, Marion and his wife have continued this ministry in his memory and in recognition of Phillip’s devotion to children. More than 1,200 bicycles have been given to foster children since Phillip’s death and this year more than 40 bicycles came to Chilton County children.

For more information on the ministry, visit

Colson said there will be a new foster parent training class on March 27 with an orientation meeting on Feb. 21. Potential foster parents must attend a 10-week class once a week, undergo a home study and a background check.

Anyone interested in applying to be a foster parent should contact Christy Haigler at or call, (205) 280-2000.