December 2020 Connects E-News

Grant a Holiday Wish

In the next few weeks, you can still grant a wish for the holidays for more than 6,500 children on our caseload through the annual Holiday Wish campaign. This year, with a high risk of coronavirus, however, we must ask you to support us from a distance.

For this year only, Holiday Wish will be moving to a monetary donation only drive. To ensure the safety of everyone, we are asking the community to make online donations or send a check to assist our children. The donated funds will be used to purchase gift cards for our youth or provide funding to families so that they can enjoy a festive holiday meal.

Help make a child's wish come true this year by:

  • Clicking here to donate online or you can write a check payable to the Franklin County Children Services Children's Fund and send it to Holiday Wish at 855 West Mound Street, Columbus, OH 43223.
  • Contact Holiday Wish via email at or call (614) 275-2525 for questions.

For this year only, we are not accepting toy donations at our office.

Malaika and Holiday Wish Celebrate Black Girl Magic

For a quarter of a century, the Malaika mentoring program has been inspiring and empowering African-American girls involved with Franklin County Children Services, matching them one-on-one with dedicated African-American women mentors to provide friendship, guidance and encouragement.

Celebrating Malaika’s milestone 25th year in 2020 didn’t exactly go according to plan. But a pandemic could never stop these devoted volunteers. The program’s 40 mentors and 35 mentees are all very much connected, checking in on each other on a regular basis, catching up virtually and sharing community resources when needed, according to program director Tonia Still.

Now in its fifth year, Black Girl Magic, a campaign, supported by Malaika, is a unique holiday gift drive that’s all about building self-esteem and supporting resiliency for girls of color involved with FCCS. A component of FCCS’s longstanding Holiday Wish program, Black Girl Magic was started because Holiday Wish wasn’t receiving enough culturally appropriate donations reflective and respectful of our girls’ experiences and diversity, according to Still. “We are grateful for gifts that allow our girls to know that they are special and important,” she says.

Whether it is giving a toddler a beautiful baby doll that looks just like her, inspiring a young reader with an uplifting book of multicultural stories, or providing hair products ideal for a pre-teen’s natural curls, Black Girl Magic’s goal is all about building our African-American girls up, according to Still. “We want to change their narrative about who they are and start them down the path of loving themselves,” she says.

Now through December 24, Black Girl Magic is accepting gift cards and monetary donations to help further this vital mission of empowerment and brighten the holidays for the amazing girls of color that FCCS serves. Donate online here or send a check made payable to the Franklin County Children's Fund with "Black Girl Magic" in the memo line to 855 W. Mound Street, Columbus, Ohio 43223. (When making an online donation, please indicate "Black Girl Magic" in the "In Honor of" and "Comments" fields.)

Learn more about the Malaika Mentoring Program and Black Girl Magic.  

Celebrating National Family Week

FCCS celebrated National Family Week in November by honoring successes in our Family-to-Family (F2F) program. Due to COVID-19, we were not able to celebrate in person, but the five settlement houses came together to nominate and celebrate the successes of families and support from community partners. 

Central Community House’s Family of the Year award was given to Rayona Spencer and her family. She stated, “Being in this program for an entire year has helped me stabilize my circumstances.” Action for Children received the Community Advocate Award for their parenting workshops and resources.

St. Stephen’s East picked Jerell Madison and Tyrell Madison as their Family of the Year. Madison credits the program for helping him work to regain custody of his son. Our Lady of Peace Society of Saint Vincent de Paul received the Community Advocate Award for providing food, clothing, and emergency assistance to F2F participants during COVID-19.

St. Stephen’s North East nominated Terri Watkins and her family as its’ Family of the Year. Watkins has overcome many challenges while raising 11 children and her granddaughter. Dale Cory of Central Ohio Bed Brigade received the Community Advocate Award. Cory and his organization have supported the F2F program by providing much needed beds.

Gladden Community House gave Samantha O’Connor the Family of the Year award for her dedication to getting back on track after facing many challenges. O’Connor was linked with F2F to help her overcome obstacles and regain custody of her son. The Center for Family Resolution received the Community Advocate Award. Director Amy Armstrong and her staff assisted F2F clients by providing parenting and money management classes during COVID-19.

St. Stephen’s North gave the Family of the Year award to Gelyn Clardy. After working with F2F, Clardy was able to secure a safe and stable home for her family. The Community Advocate Award was given to Tammy Johnson at Bargain House Appliances in Linden for helping provide appliances to F2F participants.

Although all the families had different stories, they all share the same story of never giving up, determination and success. Franklin County Children Services and our Family to Family partners are honored to share their successes.

Keeping Your Family Safe and Happy this Winter

Thanks to COVID-19 and all that has come with it, 2020 has been a challenging year to say the least. While families have found ways to cope during the summer and fall, winter brings a new set of challenges to face as days become shorter, cold and flu season arrives, and outdoor activities become less appealing. Follow these tips to help your family enjoy the winter and avoid the blues.

Stick with the Outdoors

Families should continue to embrace outdoor activities during the winter. It’s especially important during this time to maintain vitamin D levels by being exposed to sunlight. Keep up the habit of taking walks like you did during warmer months. suggests looking for outdoor events in your community like festivals and markets to stay busy and support your local economy.

Take Care When Planning Gatherings

Families and friends enjoy getting together, especially during the holidays. These are occasions that we look forward to all year. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has made them problematic. In an article posted on, Dr. Leana Wen, an emergency room physician and visiting professor at George Washington University's Milken Institute School of Public Health, encourages people to protect their loved ones. “We know by now that much of Covid-19's spread is actually driven not by formal settings with strangers but by informal gatherings of family and friends," she said. Try to gather outdoors if possible and follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention including limiting attendees, wearing masks and maintaining social distance. During an interview with NBC News, Dr. James McDeavitt, senior vice president and dean of clinical affairs at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, suggested creating a “family bubble check list,” which includes asking family members to quarantine for at least 14 days before gathering, getting flu shots, daily symptom checks, and contact-free shopping.

Stay Close

Families should continue to make the best of being indoors and enjoying their time together. Cooking, playing games and virtual visits with friends and families are still ways to pass the time and remain close.

Additional tips for making the most of this winter are available from The New York Times and the Columbus Metropolitan Library

Upcoming Events

  • Now through December - Holiday Wish
    855 W. Mound Street

    Help make holiday wishes come true for children under the care of FCCS by making a monetary donation. Holiday Wish will not be accepting toy donations and has moved to a gift card format for this year only. Call Holiday Wish at (614) 275-2525. For more information or to donate:
  • January - National Mentoring Month

    National Mentoring Month is a time for recognizing the importance of mentors and their ability to positively impact young lives. Click here to learn about becoming a mentor or volunteering with children involved with FCCS.