For many children in foster care, the holidays can bring more pain than joy.
Even if the homes they were removed from were abusive or neglectful, Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations may bring back painful memories or feelings of loneliness. And often, those children don't have much to call their own.
The Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of West Kentucky program helps with the more severe cases, providing a dedicated advocate to look out for a child's best interests.
Now, for the second Christmas in a row, that program is partnering with local crafters and businesses to give each child under its watch a personalized Christmas stocking full of gifts.
Over a few sessions this year -- most recently Tuesday -- volunteers have gathered at Ephemera Paducah to sew stockings with each individual child's name embroidered on them.
"It's kind of our way to help bring a little bit more Christmas to these children, to make it something special," CASA Volunteer Coordinator Liz Hansen said.
The children still served by the program who received stockings last year will each get a personalized pillow case, Hansen said.
Whether stockings or pillow cases, Hansen said those gifts also could help kids to carry their possessions to new placements if their current foster placements don't work out, rather than having to stuff everything into stereotypical black trash bags.
Volunteers with the program will hand-deliver the gifts to the children whose cases they're assigned to.
Terri Floyd, 66, recently moved to the area from Owensboro, and helped to sew stockings at Ephemera on Tuesday.
"I'm here with these wonderful ladies, I'm just loving it," she said.
Floyd, who has helped volunteer with other humanitarian projects, said she was grateful to be helping children who may not have much to celebrate.
"It just warms my heart right down to my toes. It is such a wonderful opportunity for these kids to get a little bit of Christmas," Floyd said.
The program also is accepting donations of Christmas gifts to stuff the children's stockings, and Hansen specifically requested gifts for teenagers, as more people tend to buy gifts for younger children.
Hansen suggested anything from bath toys, fun toothbrushes and body wash sets to nail polish, makeup and skin care, along with games, puzzles, action figures, sports supplies and arts-and-crafts.
"The holidays are just really a struggle for a lot of our kids," Hansen said.
Donations can be delivered to the Child Watch Children's Advocacy Center office at 1118 Jefferson St. in Paducah by Dec. 3. Donations also can be dropped off at Ephemera Paducah, 333 Ninth St., through Nov. 30.
Anyone with questions on how or what to donate can call Child Watch at 270-443-1440.