BELTON — Foster Love of Bell County cherishes the opportunities to honor those supporting children in foster care. But rarely does the organization get to honor a child as young as 5-year-old Braelyn Liles for her efforts to provide for children who are removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect.
Braelyn is the reigning Little Miss Copperas Cove Five Hills and her platform of service during her yearlong reign is “Fostering Hope.”
Braelyn hosted a stand with her siblings on Lemonade Day Weekend in May and passed out a list of items that children in foster care need. By the time the Liles family packed up the stand on the last day of the weekend, Braelyn had collected more than 1,200 items that will be donated to children in foster care.
“Kids needs all this stuff, but I like coloring books and crayons the most because coloring makes me happy and it will make them happy too,” Braelyn said. “I want kids to know that they are wanted and loved and I hope they find a family of their own very soon.”
Foster Love of Bell County recently honored Braelyn for her efforts with a plaque, celebration cake, stuffed animal and gift card to go shopping to get something for herself.
“The community is going to love this so much,” said Mary Herschberger, Foster Love assistant executive director, as she secretly arranged the awards presentation to surprise Braelyn.
Braelyn continues to raise money to purchase suitcases for foster children so they have something in which to carry their belongings when removed from their homes by authorities.
For the holiday season, Braelyn is collecting pajamas for very young children up to age 4 and for teenagers 14 and older who wear adult sizes. She will donate the pajamas to Foster Love of Bell County to give to children for Christmas and for use during the winter months.
Braelyn and her family have learned first-hand about foster care and the adoption process.
“We chose this as her platform because we went through the process to become foster parents to a child in Child Protective Services’ care and learned that so many children come into the system with absolutely nothing except the clothes on their backs,” said Christy Liles, Braelyn’s mother. “Often when they grab their few belongings, they only have trash bags to carry them in. We just hope that the items can provide these children with some hope and happiness in a situation that they didn’t ask to be put in.”
To donate pajamas for Braelyn’s collection drive for Foster Love of Bell County, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Miss Five Hills Scholarship Program through social media.