EDITOR'S NOTE: The Chinook Observer and the Washington Department of Social and Health Services are partnering again this year in asking for your help in making Christmas a little happier for local babies, children and teenagers in foster care.

The following profiles are about real children in Pacific County, though names have been changed to protect their privacy. Our county faces a chronic shortage of foster parents, and the families that open their homes to these kids in need are real heroes. We can help out a little bit by playing Santa.

Please open your hearts and wallets by supporting this wonderful annual project. Please drop unwrapped gifts or checks at the Chinook Observer, 205 Bolstad Ave. E., Suite 2, in Long Beach. Contributions may be mailed to P.O. Box 427, Long Beach, WA 98631. Thank you.

• George is a cheerful, athletic teen aged 17. He has been out of the care of his parents for most of his life because of their drug abuse. He lived with some relatives for a long period of time; when it became difficult for them to continue caring for him, he was placed in a foster home. School has presented some academic problems for him but he has remained committed to completing high school.

He would like to have the movies "Castaway" and the "Life of David Gaile" (DVD); the books "Child Called It" and "Man Named Dave" (David?) Clothing needs: Pants 34 by 32, shirt and jacket Large, shoes size 10, socks 8-11, gloves large.

• His father is no longer living and his mother has been involved with drug use for years. In his much younger years, Frank took care of his younger siblings - often for days - while his mother was away from the home. He is very independent and determined. Frank did not wish to be adopted nor to be in a guardianship, he did however, wish to remain in foster care. He is very athletic and doing well academically.

Christmas gift wishes are Clothing: pants 30 by 32, shirt and jacket medium; shoes sized 10 1/2 and socks 8-12. He prefers the color blue and really needs some pants (loose fit). Additionally, he would like to have Playstation 2 games, action-movie DVDs and a small TV.

• Marsha, aged 5, just loves fairy tales and swimming, going to the park and stringing beads. She had to be taken from the family home because both of her parents used drugs and hurt a younger sibling. She is a happy little girl in her new home, she is doing well in pre-school and enjoys all of the activities now available to her.

Marsha's favorite colors are purple, pink, blue and blue-green. She would like a Leap Frog learning game or Leap Pad, one girl Bratz doll with a limousine (hopefully Santa understands what this might be) and she would really, really love to have a bike (and safety helmet.) She would like some DVDs, especially "Little Mermaid," "Snow White," and "Cinderella." She wears size 12 pants, shirts, jackets and dresses; her shoe size is 13 1/2.

• Even though she is only 5 years old, Lilly has lived away from her mother for three years. Sadly, her mother is very mentally ill and is unable to care for her. Her mother often does not take her medication and she does not make good choices for herself. It became unsafe for Lilly to stay with her mother. Lilly does not see her mother and is now making a good adjustment to being away. She is doing well in pre-school and she just loves playing soccer.

Lilly is hoping that she will find princess movies (VHS) under the tree. She would also like a scooter, XP computer games and pretty dress shoes, black please, in size 12. She would also like to have princess books and dinosaur books (she appears to divide her attention equally between these two interests). She wears size 6X in pants, shirts and pajamas. Her favorite color in clothing is blue.

• Nancy is now 14 years of age. She was removed from her family home because of her mother's abuse of drugs; her father was in prison. She lived most of her life with one foster parent but had to move to another home when that foster parent became very ill. Nancy is a very intelligent girl and she is doing well in school. She takes part in a variety of sports and would like to have time for even more athletics.

She would love to have some books - mysteries mostly. She says that she needs clothes misses/junior size 7, shoes sized 8 1/2. Favorite colors for clothes are blue and pink. She would also love to have a pair of Dickies' shoes (not sure what these are; just letting Santa know.)

• Tracie's mother was mentally ill and abused drugs. Tracie was often left with people who did not take good care of her and she was in unsafe situations. Her foster parents believe that she may have been sexually abused but there is not yet enough evidence to prove this; law enforcement and CPS have both looked into the possibility of the crime. This 6-year-old child just loves music, she dances, plays video games and board games. She has found safety and comfort in the home where she now lives. Foster parents describe her as active, funny and curious.

Her Christmas wishes are for size 7-8 pants, shirts, and pajamas; also, a jacket sized 8-10 and shoes size 2. The best gifts would be to get a Royal Music Barbie Palace, a My Size Barbie and a desk Lamp. Favorite movies are Mary Kate and Ashley movies in VHS and she would like Magic Tree House books.

• Sadly, because of drug abuse and criminal activities, Larry's parents were not able to take good care of him. For some time, they lived in their car. Larry is now 8 years old. When he came into foster care he did not know his colors, alphabet nor could he count; his parents had spent no time teaching him. Because he is a bright child, he quickly learned once he was in day care and had someone work with him. He is now academically on target. When he grows up he wants to be a police officer. His hobbies are coloring and taking care of his pet lizard.

His favorite colors are blue, red, black and hot pink. His clothing sizes are pants size 9, shirts 8/10 or medium, pajamas 8/10 medium, shoes 5 1/2 socks 8-9/10, gloves small, jacket or coat size 10 and T-shirts sized 8/10 medium. Larry is asking for army pants, running shoes, army books (nothing violent, please), Pokemon and dinosaur movies. He would also like to have a United States Puzzle. Larry said that he really needs a scarf, gloves, a winter hat, a baseball hat. He would like to have a remote control plane or "flying thing" or a car (maybe a remote control car.) He would like to have a Playstation 2 and Pokemon game.

• Barry is 8 months old. His parents have both been arrested and when they are not in jail, they do not provide a safe home for him. He is developing normally and seems to be a happy baby.

For Christmas he needs clothing sized 10-12 months; pajamas, and other clothes. He needs socks - 30-pound size (30 pounds of baby, not socks). He needs a baby blanket, lots of diapers, a play mat and toys to play with when he takes his bath.

• Leanna is 3 years old. Her parents have been heavily involved in drug use and some illegal activities. She loves painting and playing. Leanna's favorite colors are green and blue. Now that she is in a safer place she is learning more and growing fast.

She needs pants sized 4 toddler, shoes 7 1/2 and socks for a 35 pounder. She needs pants, shoes and dresses. She would like to have ABC books, cartoon movies (please be careful to have no violent content). She would like word spellers, a baby doll with a blanket and a big play house.

• The seven months since Megan was born have been very bad and dangerous for her. She is now safe and growing but for Christmas she needs clothing items for 10-12-month-olds, socks 30 pounds. She needs pajamas, a baby blanket, lots of diapers, and a baby music box. It would be good for her to have an activity cube and colorful toys for her to play with.

• For the past four years Jerry has been in the same foster home. His parents were neglectful of him and he was often left alone. His mother was also addicted to alcohol and other drugs. His father had abandoned the family some time before. Jerry is now 16 years old. He loves to play sports and card games. School remains a challenge for him but he is loved and cared for in his foster home.

He is now more and more aware of his appearance and Jerry has asked for clothes (favorite colors, blue and white) he needs pants in boys 20 or 30 and shoes sized 10. He also needs T-shirts, size medium (no heavy metal or negative mottos). If possible, he would really like to have a computer and a 19-inch TV. He is also asking for Yu-Gi-Oh cards and art supplies. He enjoys art very much.

• During her 11 years, life has been very hard for this child; she has experienced physical and sexual abuse. Margaret's father has not lived with the family for some time; her mother is drug addicted and involved in criminal activities in another state. In foster care with a loving family, she is feeling safe and doing better. She loves to dance, play basket ball, sew and cook.

This Christmas it would be wonderful for this child if she had a few of her wishes come true. She would love Mary Kate and Ashley VHS movies and Harry Potter books. She would like a CD player, Leap Frog multiplication, and CDs-country music top ten. She also needs clothes; pants size junior 9, shirts medium/large, jacket/coat large-junior, shoes sized 7 1/2, socks 7-9 women's, gloves 7-9, dresses 7 misses or junior, pajamas medium.

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