There are more than 250 children in foster care in Jefferson County, and this holiday season each received a gift thanks to an organization called Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime.

There are more than 250 children in foster care in Jefferson County, and this holiday season each received a gift thanks to an organization called Children of Arkansas Loved for a Lifetime.

The CALL in Jefferson County partnered with Voices for Children to sponsor “Fostering Christmas.”

“We solicited sponsors for foster children in Jefferson County and it was definitely a success,” said Cindi Wallace, board chairman. “It’s something that we plan on doing annually.”

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office helped by holding a toy drive.

But in addition to providing toys, the CALL is seeking families to give foster children an even greater gift: a safe place to call home.

The CALL is a foster care and adoption church initiative that works with the Division of Children and Family Services, a part of the Arkansas Department of Human Services. The goal is to find homes for children who have come into state custody because of abuse, neglect or other safety concern in their homes, said JoAnna Hale, coordinator of the CALL in Jefferson County.

“These children come into custody through no fault of their own,” she said.

The CALL works with DHS and local churches to inform families and assist them with the foster care and adoption process.

“We help with awareness and getting the word out,” Hale said. “There are more than 250 children in foster care in Jefferson County and only about 27 foster homes. There is a crisis shortage of foster homes. There are more than 500 children in Arkansas waiting to be adopted.”

With the help of volunteers, the CALL helps expedite the certification process for those interested in foster care or adoption. The group offers convenient foster/adoption training at church locations, Hale said.

Organizers say the organization is always seeking ways to assist families and children in foster care.

“We’ve taken on another project called ‘The Extreme Makeover-DHS Visitation Room,’” Wallace said. “With the help of donations and volunteers, we will renovate the visitation room at DHS for the children.”

The group is seeking donations of new or gently used furniture that can be wiped clean easily such as couches, love seats and tables.

Hale said the organization is also working to move a thrift shop called the CALL Mall into a building by early 2012. It’s currently operated out of different homes.

“It will be free for foster parents to shop for what their children might need,” she said.

The shop will accept donations of new or gently used clothing, furniture, strollers, cribs, carriers and other items.

Wallace explained that it’s a way to provide foster families with some of the essentials.

“When these children come into care, they may not have anything except the clothes on the back or maybe a blanket and a toy,” she said, adding that people who may not be able to foster or adopt children can help by donating items, money or their time.

For more information about the CALL in Jefferson County, contact JoAnna Hale at 413-2500 or Cindi Wallace at 692-2717, email jeffersoncounty@thecallinarkansas.org or visit www.thecallinarkansas.org.