Home News Vision Spotlight: Purple Day, part I

Spotlight: Purple Day, part I

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Submitted Photo For many of the foster kids, the weeklong Royal Family KIDS of New Mexico camp is the only time they get to experience being a child and being loved.

Fundraising starts for the Royal Family KIDS of New Mexico Camp

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

The iconic purple signs will be going up on April 3 to mark Purple Day, when the community comes together to help children who are victims of abuse and neglect.

Imagine, a 10-year-old child who never had a birthday; a 7-year-old who watched over his siblings and filled the role of a parent. Children that were robbed of their childhood because of adults who are not fit to be called parents. There are hundreds of heart-wrenching stories that any social worker, therapist or law enforcement officer can tell. And these stories happen in your hometown if you are reading this in Roswell, Artesia, Carlsbad, Carrizozo, Dexter, Hagerman or elsewhere in the state. Child neglect and abuse happens as much in rural communities as in cities.

In the last report of the Child Welfare League of America in 2017, there has been a steady increase reported of the number of child victims in New Mexico. The numbers are 55.3 percent higher in comparison to the number of victims in 2011. Out of 1,000 children, 17 were victims of abuse or neglect. In 2015, New Mexico had 40,855 total referrals for child abuse and neglect. Of those, 21,798 reports were referred for investigation.

What happens to these children? Many stay in foster care until charges are filed. Ideally, they will be reunited with their family, but many are waiting in foster care — often in vain — to be adopted.

As the organizers of Royal Family KIDS of New Mexico say, these innocent foster kids are the next generation of desperate homeless who will be on the streets, or hardened criminals who will fill the prisons in a decade.

Tabitha Denny is the new RFK camp director. She has been volunteering at the camp for the last four years. “It’s an ugly vicious cycle, some of them never had that chance of being a kid,” she said. “I work with some of these kids daily because of my other job. Right now, I am a treatment coordinator therapist with Peak Treatment Foster Care. We work with those who have a higher level of care needed. There is more behavioral issues — there may have been more or extensive sexual or physical abuse. So, that’s the kids we work with. Foster care has the kids that don’t have as many as those behaviors, but we take all kids.”

Purple Day kicks off the fundraising campaign to give these children a week of real childhood. A light that they can keep in their hearts and remember in years to come. A purple signal from the community that there is hope, love and a future for them.

Royal Family Kids Camp depends on the support of churches, businesses and families who raise funds and volunteer for the camp, a life-changing week for these children.

“Our goal for Purple Day is not only to raise resources for this amazing camp, but also to remind the community of our duty to be fathers to the fatherless and to care for the orphans in their distress,” said Jacob Roebuck, a 10-year veteran for Royal Family KIDS. “We are thrilled to have lots of new businesses joining us to really make Purple Day a huge success.”

“Instead of having one single event that day, we have several throughout the day to fundraise for camp,” Denny said. “We’ll have a breakfast in the morning at First Baptist at 7 a.m. We pray and hear about what is Purple day and what camp is. Jacob Roebuck, who is the founder of Purple Day Roswell and one of our city councilors, will speak that morning.”

First Baptist Church of Roswell is located at 500 N. Pennsylvania Ave. Calvary Chapel of Roswell, Christ Church, Grace Community Church and Church on the Move are supporting RFK as well.

“My favorite day at camp — they are all my favorite, but I have to say one is, especially. They get a great big birthday party and we have a carnival-type setup, but they all get their own birthday cake with their name on it. They each get gifts, which is the point of the toy drive on Purple Day at Classics Custard,” Denny said.

The new, unwrapped toys for the birthday party should be for boys and girls between 6 and 12 years old.

“Anybody who drops off a toy will get a free ice cream for every toy they donate,” Denny said.

We put out a list what we are looking for, so that way we get things that we know that the kids want and not getting toys that we can’t use. The kids like basketballs, soccer balls, remote control cars and trucks, jewelry making kits, drawing items and sports-related items. They tend to not like the dolls, Barbies or stuffed animals.”

The list is also available on Purple Day’s Facebook page and on purpledaynm.com.

“During the day both, north and south Domino’s Pizza are donating a portion of their proceeds. Buffalo Wild Wings, as well, and Sippy and Opal’s, Toddzilla’s, and the Scuba Shop is donating a percentage of any of the classes that are purchased or any kind of equipment that’s purchasing. The key thing is, they need to mention that they are there, especially for Buffalo Wild Wings, to say that they are there for camps, so they are aware to donate the proceeds. Then on Friday and Saturday, we’ll be having hamburgers and such in front of Sam’s Club. Any of the donations will be donated to camp,” Denny said.

Denny is hoping to get enough funds to take 70 foster children to the camp. She is working on reaching churches and communities in Artesia and Carlsbad, where some of the kids come from. There are different ways to sponsor the children, next to the already mentioned events. RFK is looking for volunteers who can participate during the week.

“It is a one-to-two ratio for councilors,” Denny said. “We have one counselor to two campers. At a minimum, we have to have 35 counselors, but then we have to have support staff as well. We usually will take 75 to 100 volunteers because there are so many other roles that we have to cover, as well.”

Denny knows that not everybody has time to take a week off. The organizing and preparations ahead of the July 7 to 12 camp week itself takes a lot of work. Others can help by sponsoring a kid. “Every dollar counts,” Denny said. There are many different ways to help.

For more information, visit purpledaynm.com and like its Facebook page.

Part II about the Royal Family KIDS of New Mexico will be published next Sunday and will cover details about the camp itself.