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FOSTER KIDS PACK NORTH POLE

Colorado Springs Gazette, June 17, 2007
By Linda Navarro

For 31 years, Christmas has come in springtime for the area’s foster childrenOn one day a year, Santa’s Workshop at North Pole is solely foster kids’ domain and owner Tom Haggard their host. One June 3, there were rides to ride, fried chicken to eat, animals to pet and families to enjoy.

Put on by the CASA of the Pikes Peak Region Foster Children’s Fund, the 31st annual Foster Children’s Festival drew more than 750 people.

According to organizer Francis Toften, some 1,450 pieces of fried chicken, 16 gallons of baked beans and 700 pieces of corn on the cob were devoured.

Toften, a CASA advocate volunteer, took a break from administrative duties to be “kidnapped” by several youngsters, who took him on the umbrella ride and Tilt-a-Whirl.

“My stomach forgot how fun that is,” he said, laughing.

Taking a break from rides were Jerolyn Combs and her adopted children, all former foster children: Janet, Kiaya, Christopher, Bryanna and Justin.

After the event, the Foster Children’s Fund received thank-yous, including one from a foster mother who has brought her foster children to enjoy the special day each year for 22 years.

Park owner Haggard was greeted by parents who had come to the festival first as foster children and returned to introduce their own children to him.

Foster children and their families or caregivers, current and previous, were all invited.

Sponsors of the festival included US Bank, Wells Fargo Insurance Services, KFC and Wal-Mart.

Volunteers included Paul Perea, MaryAnne Cooper, Theresa Krainz, Dick Milton, Mike and Karen Matkin, Robin and Steve Coen, Susan Krassy, Jane Hegstrom, Michelle Geng, Amanda Draper, Trudy Strewler and John McIlwee.