Roy’s Kids program makes Christmas brighter for Oceana children; Community Foundation fund established

December 22, 2014
Oceana County Sheriff Deputy Roy Strait, at left, began the Roy's Kids program 20 years ago and it is still going strong.  “The program reaches out and touches many families that would not have had a Christmas,” said Sheriff Bob Farber, at right.

Oceana County Sheriff Deputy Roy Strait, at left, began the Roy’s Kids program 20 years ago and it is still going strong. “The program reaches out and touches many families that would not have had a Christmas,” said Sheriff Bob Farber, at right.

OCEANA COUNTY — If you see patrol cars out on Christmas Eve with Santa and his bag of gifts, it’s not because Santa’s sleigh broke down – it’s the Roy’s Kids program out making Christmas brighter for area families.

Roy’s Kids was started in 1994 by Oceana Sheriff Deputy Roy Strait as an outreach activity from his role as school liaison. The program will now receive support via one of the 113 funds under the auspices of the Community Foundation for Oceana County.

First serving 10-15 children, Roy’s Kids now reaches some 130 youngsters who are visited by three Santa-driven patrol car “sleighs” that bring toys and warm winter clothing for each child and a food basket for the family.

“We decided right away to make the delivery on Christmas Eve day. It’s just hard to explain the joy we all feel, seeing the children looking out the window when the squad car pulls up and Santa gets out,” explained Strait.

“The program reaches out and touches many families that would not have had a Christmas,” adds Oceana County Sheriff Bob Farber. Both Farber and Strait feel that the positive reinforcement and role models of the law enforcement officials adds a unique element to the program.

“Our Santas are very committed to this program – freely volunteering their time. We even have a Spanish-speaking elf in case translation is needed,” said Strait. The program is a community effort, from churches and school staff providing items for families; Red Hat ladies donating toys, quilts and hats made by loving hands; sheriff department staff doing the shopping; and the victim services support group coming together for ‘Wrap Day.’ Department of Human Services provides the majority of referrals for the program. “We also try to fill immediate needs that crop up during the year, like winter jackets and boots,” adds Strait.

An anonymous donor recently established the Roy’s Kids Fund at the Community Foundation for  Oceana County to provide long-term sustainability for the program.”We couldn’t believe it when we heard about this generous donation. It’s such a blessing and very heartwarming to see the commitment of so many in the community to continue this program,” said Farber.

The Roy’s Kids Fund joins 13 other new funds established in 2014, including the John Bush III Memorial Scholarship for Walkerville High School students; Carnes Family Fund, a donor advised fund directed towards supporting students interested in attending Interlochen Center for the Arts; Jordan Evans Memorial Scholarship for graduating Hart seniors pursuing degrees in agricultural sciences and/or vocational training; Melissa Fralic Memorial Scholarship for Hart High School seniors pursuing degrees in elementary education or other majors; Getty Park Renovation Campaign to support overall park improvements; Happy Farmers Art of Living Fund directed towards supporting traditional arts and land stewardship; Love INC of Oceana County Fund, a nonprofit support to help serve Oceana citizens in need; David P. Markiewicz Fund to support music programs in Shelby Public Schools and New Era Christian School; Nobles Family Medical Reserve Corps Fund directed towards supporting the Oceana County Medical Reserve Corps; Oceana County Medical Care Facility Campaign to renovate, expand and remodel the facility; Pentwater Artisan Learning Center Endowment, a nonprofit support to provide access to a variety of arts at its facility; Pentwater Service Club to support the charitable work and purpose of the club; and Mary Sanford Memorial Fund, donor advised fund.

“I often get asked what brings people, organizations and businesses to the Oceana Foundation to set up named funds,” Executive Director Tammy Carey said. “Typically, one of several things has happened. Some funds are created by family, friends and co-workers to honor someone’s life and have the deceased’s name live on in a way that supports the person’s interests during their life. Charitable-minded clubs create funds so people can support the organizations’ goals and receive tax benefits. And an increasing number of nonprofits and other institutions are setting up funds as a focal point for raising monies for specific purposes.

“It’s easy for any individual, family, organization or business that wants to positively impact the quality of life in Oceana and elsewhere by establishing a foundation charitable fund,” added Carey. A fund’s balance must be at least $5,000 before contributions can be made from it; for scholarship funds, the minimum balance is $10,000. Some funds start out with balances that exceed those minimums, while other funds start out in a “Build A Fund” category until the minimum balance is reached. “All kinds of givers can establish their named funds regardless of their financial means,” Carey emphasized. Fund balances are then co-mingled in the overall investment pool and advised by Vanguard Investment Advisory Services.

People also create funds under the foundation umbrella to be kept informed of emergency needs as well as what’s going on generally in Oceana. They can add monies to their fund in tax-advantageous years and contribute to charities from their fund when they wish. They can do all of their giving through their fund, and have only one tax receipt. Their name can be recognized and live on, or they can make contributions anonymously. For a complete list of all 113 funds, see Component funds.

The Community Foundation for Oceana County was created 25 years ago to improve the quality of life for Oceana residents; has assets totaling $8.4 million; and has provided a total of $3.4 million in grants and scholarships to the community since 1989. For more information, contact Carey at 231-861-8335; at and on the foundation’s Facebook page.