'Care Packages' for Orphans in College

'Care Packages' for Orphans in College

Freddie Mac and the Orphan Foundation send Valentine's Day packages.

To celebrate Valentine's Day the Freddie Mac Foundation came together with the Orphan Foundation of America (OFA) to prepare 2,500 Valentine's Day "care packages" for orphans in colleges and universities nationwide.

Over 300 Freddie Mac employees volunteered to help prepare the packages which are part of the Care Package Program, a partnership between the two foundations. The Freddie Mac Foundation decided to join last year as part of their work for youth. This time the theme was Valentine's Day, and the packaging was done at Freddie Mac's headquarters in McLean last Wednesday.

Different companies had donated products and shipping for the packages, which contained a variety of items such as cookies, teddy bears, books, body wash and more. Following the theme, each package will get a handmade red scarf from people all over the country and cards made by South Lake High School students. Traditionally every package also gets a personally handwritten note by the volunteers.

Shalita Savoy is an orphan who used to receive "care packages" when she was studying criminology at University of Maryland. She said, "It just meant everything. People have no idea how special it felt to receive one of those packages. I didn't have any family to rely on, and getting a package made me feel like people cared about me." She has since graduated and is still involved in the Orphan Foundation as a spokeswoman.

Jean Ballard is one of the volunteers from Freddie Mac who helped fill the packages. She said, "I'm here because it is for a great cause, and it feels good to be here. It is also convenient, since I can just come down on my lunch break and help. It is hard to fit in, otherwise, between work, my three children and everything around that."

FOSTER CHILDREN including those orphaned receive financial help and foster care through the county government until they are 18 years old. After that they are counted as adults and are out of the system. Less than 10 percent go on to study at a college or university. The Care Package program sends out packages to students three times a year. Packages are sent in September when school starts. It is a time when other youth will receive packages from their families. The other time is in spring before exams start. Each time, the packages have a special theme.

The Orphan Foundation of America (OFA) was founded in 1993 and offer a family-like support for orphans. They offer mentoring and academic advising, combined with financial assistance to help students stay in school. They give the moral support for youth who are without the support and guidance of a family.

Freddie Mac Foundation is involved in several youth- and family-related programs in the Washington, D.C. area. Every month employees at Freddie Mac are given the opportunity to volunteer in different programs through the Freddie Mac Foundation.

The volunteers worked hard all day to fill the packages so they could be sent off to orphans around the nation in time for Valentine's Day.