Via The Rolla Daily News:
The Centre and Lions Club Park in Rolla both played a huge role in the 13th annual Linking Hearts Adoption Fair held Sept. 18.
This event is an opportunity for potential adoptive parents to interact with adoptable children from around Missouri. Currently there are over 2,000 children in the state of Missouri who need permanent, loving homes.
“Each year the fun starts with the children going to The Centre for a time of crafts, swimming, basketball and volleyball,” explained The Community Partnership’s Community Youth and Development Director Robyn Wolfe. “Before the children arrive, personalized backpacks are assembled, containing toys or games or other items for each of them. When they get to The Centre, they receive Linking Hearts T-shirts and their backpack.”
After the activities at The Centre, the children travel to Lions Club Park where they are assigned a “buddy” from the Greek community of Missouri University of Science and Technology. That buddy stays with the child throughout the evening as they take part in games and other activities.
Meanwhile, potential adoptive parents sign in and receive information about foster parenting and adoption from Children’s Division staff.
Opening remarks this year were given by Carolyn Gerber, 25th Circuit manager (covering Maries, Phelps, Pulaski and Texas counties,) with the Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division.
“It’s always so much fun to watch the children arrive and see their faces,” Wolfe said. “Lions Club Park is transformed by the Missouri S&T Greek Community into a family-style carnival. Sororities and fraternities do a lot of planning every year with the booths and games and fun things for the kids to do.
“This year was no exception. Missouri S&T’s Greek Community provides hundreds of volunteers, and a free cookout. The atmosphere gives kids and families the opportunity to interact and learn more about each other,” Wolfe added.
Wolfe said that a smaller number of children attended the event this year because of a scheduling conflict with a participating agency. “But the energy was still high, and the Greek community went above and beyond as they do every year to make it a special day at Lions Club Park,” Wolfe said.
“The planning for Linking Hearts starts long before it actually takes place,” she explained. “We had community volunteers who helped us do the shopping, crafts and the judging of the booths and activities. We estimate that the number of volunteer hours from Missouri S&T students was around 1,000. I can’t stress enough how much we appreciate the students for all they do to make this event a success.”
This year’s sponsors included The Community Partnership, Missouri Department of Social Services – 25th Circuit Children’s Division, Missouri S&T Interfraternity Council, Missouri S&T Panhellinic Council, Walmart D.C. 6069, Rolla Noon Kiwanis Club, The Centre, Adoption Exchange, Results Radio, Great Circle and Key Sport. Those who did not attend the Linking Hearts Adoption Fair but are interested in foster or adoptive parenting may contact the Division of Social Services, Children’s Division at 573-368-2340 or visit http://www.dss.mo.gov/cd/index.htm online.