Just like everyone else, Wendy Futch has had to adapt to COVID-19.
It’s just that everyone else usually doesn’t shop for approximately 600 kids every Christmas.
“With the pandemic I’m wondering what are the stores going to look like, are they going to have the stuff we want. Walmart is closing at 10 p.m. and I’m used to shopping at 2 and 3 in the morning sometimes,” she said.
Futch, director of Bryan County Family Connection and the driving force behind the Bryan County Children’s Fund, said COVID-19 has forced some changes in how BCCF will operate in 2020, but it won’t put a stop to it.
“We’re just having to change our mindset about some things and work around COVID-19,” Futch said. The pandemic didn’t stop the Good Ol’ Boys from conducting their annual Santa Scramble some weeks back, and the golf tournament raised an estimated $25,000 for the Children’s Fund. It hasn’t kept Pembroke Advanced Communications and Fiber from again providing its employees and facilities to help provide gifts for kids who otherwise might not get anything under the tree. It hasn’t stopped the BCCF’s Angel Tree program, either.
And it hasn’t stopped Futch, who with help has shopped for thousands of children ages 0 to 17 during her 17 years with Bryan County Family Connection, the last 13 of which she’s been director.
The children are selected with input from the schools, Department of Family and Children Services and churches. One of the biggest requirements is they live in the county. “This money is raised in the county for kids in the county,” Futch said. “I have to be a good steward of those funds.”
What’s more, despite a growing shopping list – Futch estimates there will be about 600 children to buy for this year; there were only about 200 when she began in 2003 – the Children’s Fund continues to try and be personal. “I like to tell people we shop for these children like they’re our own children,” she said. “We take their wish list and we try really hard to make sure they get at least two of their items.” The reason is the kids themselves, she said.
“It’s important to me they have a joy on Christmas morning,” Futch said.