GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – North Carolina continues to experience record levels of need in foster care.

In the state, more than 11,000 children are waiting for a home. According to the N.C Department of Health and Human Services, that’s a jump from just five years ago.

In Pitt County, DSS has around 225 children in their foster care unit. But it’s not just children DSS is helping through their Holiday Cheer program.

“We also have other children and families in our other child welfare divisions. And we also have an 18 to 21 program. And those children are in their age range, where they have signed a voluntary placement agreement with us, but they are adult in age, but they still need guidance and help,” said Chandra Mewborn, Pitt County DSS social work supervisor. “And most of these youth are independent and are working. And they also need items for the holidays as well.”

Pitt County DSS also has adult services helping the adult and elderly population. The program Holiday Cheer relies on community and citizen donations. It’s encouraged to consider sponsoring a child by purchasing needed items.

“We really depend on our community partners to help us with this program. We also accept a lot of general donations, you know, such as socks, diapers, hygiene items, undergarments and things such as that,” said Mewborn.

Statistics by the Department of Health and Human Services show the median time a child spends in the system is 525 days.

“Being involved in the care can be a traumatic event. So whatever we can do to give them some normalcy, and show them love and joy on Christmas morning, that’s what our agency, that’s what we aim to do,” said Mewborn.

The deadline to donate items is Dec. 9th. DSS encourages you to call and arrange a time for item drop-offs. For more information visit Pitt County Social Services Seeks “Holiday Cheer” Assistance.