‘Black Dress’ event raises $6K for foster kids

Published 7:09 am Friday, December 21, 2012

HELPING THE CHILDREN: Shown at the charity event are, left to right, Ashley White, Nicole Nichols, Solaine Tyre, Ann Sellars, Cristi Surratt, Joy Key, Merritt Godwin, Lauren Harrell, Jessica Wynn, Patty Hall and Randee Eubanks.

Special to The Post-Searchlight

Foster children in Decatur County will have a merrier Christmas this year, due to the efforts of a former child protective services investigator, a committee of volunteers and several hundred others who believed in her idea of making Christmas wishes come true for these children.

“It was always a goal of mine to give back to the children and the Department in some way,” said Joy Key, who worked for the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) 15 years ago. “I wanted to use my talent and position in the community to bring people together and bring awareness to the circumstances of these children.”

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Key and a committee of volunteers began organizing the Little Black Dress Charity Event about four months ago. The event drew approximately 200 guests on Nov. 15, at the Charles H. Kirbo Center.

Their efforts culminated on Dec. 7, when the organizers of the Little Black Dress Charity Event presented Jackie Bridges, the director of DFCS, a check for $6,000.

“For the first time this has been done, and we were all over-joyed with the amount of support and the amount of donations,” Key said. “We have had so much positive feedback from this event, and we are planning to make it an annual event.”

The night included silent auction items and a Christmas wish tree, which was filled with Christmas-wish items the foster children had submitted. Guests were able to pull from the tree if they wanted to help purchase a gift for a child.

As a way to help make 13 of the children feel special, they were treated to special treatment at the Affinity Hair Salon. Afterwards, Key, with the assistance of Niki Conley who prepared the children, did portraits of those 13 children. The black and white portraits were on display at the event.

“This was something they have never had before,” Key said.

Key said she was spurred to organize the event when she heard county funds were cut for the foster children. The funds were intended to assist foster children and their foster families with supplementing the children’s activities and other needs such as special school supplies or extra-curricular activities.

Laura and Steve Winburn, and Brandi, Merreanne and Greg McDonald all spoke at the event, sharing their experiences of being foster and adoptive parents.