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Caritas Family Solutions, a Belleville-based, nonprofit social service agency, is seeking support for more than 330 local children in foster care served by their regional office in Belleville.

huelsmann garyCaritas Family Solutions is the largest foster care service provider in Southern Illinois, and the third largest state-wide. They currently manage cases for 1,310 children overall.

During the holiday gift-giving season, donors are invited to become a “Secret Santa Year Round,” providing monetary gifts that offer the flexibility to meet the needs of foster children as they arise throughout the year. Contributions can be made online at caritasfamilysolutions.org/ssyearround or by phone at (618) 213-8700 or (877) 722-2748 (toll free) and will be used as needed most.

Donations of Christmas gifts (new, unwrapped toys, games, books, clothing, and gift cards) for boys and girls up to age 18 are being collected at all Associated Bank branch locations through December 6. If a business, organization or church would also like to organize a gift collection, they are asked to call 618-213-8717.

Drop off dates for collected items are Friday, December 7 from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturday, December 8 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at 900 Royal Heights Road in Belleville. Caseworkers will deliver gifts to foster families in time for Christmas.

“This time of year can be especially challenging for children in foster care,” said Gary Huelsmann, chief executive officer of Caritas Family Solutions (shown). “With support from the community, we are able to assure that they have what they need every day. And we especially want to send them the message at Christmas that they matter, they are not alone, they have not been forgotten and they are loved.”

Founded in 1947, Caritas Family Solutions is a charitable organization whose mission is to provide direct services that meet the social and emotional needs of people of all ages. Services include adoption, pregnancy care, foster care, counseling, residential treatment for abused and neglected children, multisystemic therapy for at-risk youth, independent living for adults with developmental disabilities, and assisted living and employment assistance for low-income seniors. Caritas serves more than 4,500 individuals annually across Southern Illinois from offices located in Belleville, Carterville, Mount Vernon, Olney, East Alton, and Effingham. For additional information, visit www.caritasfamilysolutions.org.