In Missouri, around 13,000 children are in the foster care system.
Of those, 1,500 are immediately available for adoption.
The Central Missouri Foster Care & Adoption Association wanted to talk about those children in its inaugural barbecue fundraiser, CEO DeAnna Alonso said.
The event, held Thursday evening at The Millbottom at 400 W. Main St., aimed to raise money for the nonprofit’s programs for children and their foster, adoptive and kinship families, Alonso said. The programs include giving backpacks to children entering foster care; direct services such as providing clothes, furniture and other needs; as well as organizing respite events, such as visiting state parks and the aquarium in Springfield.
“(We) really want to give our kiddos an opportunity to just relax and feel the love and support around them from their family and also from us,” Alonso said, adding these events would also give the children’s families a break.
The event offered a barbecue pork steak dinner and games like a cornhole tournament and rounds of Plinko. In addition to the revenue from ticket sales, participants could choose to sponsor the organization at a price anywhere from $500-10,000. There was a card on each table highlighting a child in the foster care system.
The event had raised around $10,000 as of the start, Alonso said. Organizers decided to hold a barbecue after a rebrand last year, she added.
“We hadn’t really heard about a barbecue event, so we wanted to be able to do that,” she said.
Alonso said the barbecue was a way for people to relax, connect with each other and talk about what they could do and why they care about children in foster, adoptive and kinship families.
“It really is about people’s heart and about what the connection is to the future of our children,” she said. “We need a lot of people thinking about the future of our children.”
The event attracted several business sponsors. Stacey Eickhorst and her daughter-in-law, Sydni, both employees at one such sponsor, Luebbering Insurance Agency, participated in the fundraiser along with Syndi’s child.
Stacey Eickhorst said her company has supported the association for many years.
“We’ve just been watching them grow, so we’ve been coming to a lot of their events,” she said. “We like what they do, we’re called to help the people that can’t help themselves.”
She added she hoped the funds they raised at the event would go toward the most pressing need the organizers could determine.
“There’s so much involved with it, whatever they need the money the most for, I think that’s the most important thing,” she said.