PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — CBS Eyewitness News is proud to sponsor another year of the ToyFest campaign benefiting the Salvation Army. The Salvation Army is very active in helping find foster homes and forever homes.
Eyewitness News went to Collegeville to visit a family brought together by a loving couple who stepped up to help when these kids needed it.
Eleven-year-old Alyssa loves music, 6-year-old Allie loves to dance, and Austin loves his big sisters.
“I’m just really thankful for everybody that’s in my life right now,” said Alyssa.
She has reason to be thankful. A few years ago, Alyssa and Allie were in foster care. Allie says they heard one word a lot; maybe.
“Will I be with my brother and sister when I grow up? Maybe. Or will I be with my parents again? Maybe,” said Allie.
Eventually Allie and Alyssa were placed with Harold and Susan Guntz, veteran foster parents. They had seven children and several grandkids, and just planned to be a temporary place for the girls.
“And a few weeks after they came to stay with us, their father passed away unexpectedly,” said Harold.
Harold and Susan knew what they wanted to do. In July 2016 they adopted Alyssa and Allie.
But Austin was in a different foster home.
“It was just worrying, because I didn’t want him to go through anything that I had to go though. Even though he was still young, like memories can stay with you,” said Alyssa.
“We really felt called to take this baby to keep the family together,” said Susan.
So they did, adopting Austin who is now two and a half years old.
Through it all, they’ve been connected to the Salvation Army.
“It’s a unique story,” said Florence Rhue, who directs foster care and adoption services for the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia.
She says the generosity of area people brings tens of thousands of toys every year, reaching more than 14,000 children, including foster and adoptive families.
“Wrapping your arms around the child and the foster family throughout that holiday season, it’s really special,” said Florence.
“It’s like a secret Santa,” Alyssa agreed.