Jim Wells was 1 of 4 kids raised by a single mom, and they didn’t have much money. For about 3 years — when Jim was 6, 7, and 8 years old — they relied on the Salvation Army for Christmas presents. Those volunteers were the only “Santa Claus” Jim knew, but the presents he opened brought more sadness than joy.
“The presents that were handed to me didn’t have my name on them. They just said ‘To a Boy’ on the tag. I remember thinking, ‘God, Santa Claus doesn’t even know my name? This sucks!’” Jim recalls.
When Jim grew up, he and his wife, Jenny, decided to bring the Christmas magic he never had to kids. They started by buying Christmas presents for families at a local women’s shelter in the Boise area.
“We would go to the women’s shelter out in Nampa and ask them to let us adopt a family, usually an abused mom and kids living in the shelter. We did that for many years. It wasn’t like a regular organized thing, just something we showed up and did,” Jim says.
Then, Jim discovered Fostering Christmas! The nonprofit organization ensures every Idaho foster kid in Ada and Canyon Counties gets the Christmas gifts on their wish lists. The Fostering Christmas mission really spoke to Jim. He couldn’t help but think of his own childhood when he looked at the kids’ wish lists. So, when he and Jenny picked children to sponsor, he decided to go above and beyond to make their gifts personal.
“As a hobby, I cut metal on a CNC table, and I try to make a gift that is personal with each kid’s name. Last year, there was a little boy named Dante who loved Batman. So, I made some Batman wings that had his name in them. The year before that, there was a little girl who loved anything princess, and her name was Belle. I made her name out of metal with a princess crown on the B,” Jim says.
Unlike Jim, these kids will have no doubt that Santa Claus knows their names. Making those custom pieces is one way for Jim to right the wrongs of his childhood. He and Jenny also participate in Fostering Christmas to set an example for their own kids. They teach them that “there’s a little more to Christmas than just Santa showing up at our house.”
Today, Jim works as the manager of Managed Print Services at Boise Office Equipment. He’s been participating in Fostering Christmas for more than 5 years.
“We’re not wealthy or anything like that, but we plan ahead and budget to do this every year,” Jim says. “Usually, we claim 2–4 kids depending on what’s available, and we love claiming siblings. That way, we can even out the amount of presents so one kid doesn’t feel left behind.”
To learn more about Fostering Christmas and help Jim save Christmas for foster kids this season, click here.
You can also help these kids in a bigger way if you have the means. The Idaho Department of Health & Welfare is badly in need of foster parents. Click here to learn more about the process and how to apply.