Organizations gather to support grandparents raising grandchildren during the holidays

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Oklahoma ranks second in the amount of grandparents raising grandkids.

Saturday, several organizations came together to make sure those grandparents have the support they need during the holidays.

Inside first Presbyterian Church on N.W. 25th in Oklahoma City, there are grandparents, grandkids and pews packed with presents.

It’s where Sharron and Jeff Krohn are making Christmas wishes come true for their grandchildren.

“Which has been a big help because, when you start raising kids all over again, you just don’t know where to get help," Jeff said. "They are little kids, and then they get older, and you still don’t know."

They are like many grandparents in Oklahoma who took in and take care of grandchildren, all under different circumstances but many with the same struggles.

“They can’t afford to buy things, because of the cost of raising grandchildren," said Sheriff John Whetsel, Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office. "These are those who are up in years who never thought they would have to take care of their grandchildren, but they have stepped up to the plate out of love.”

That’s why Sunbeam Family Services began partnering with local groups.

They started in 2001 buying gifts for 50 children, and this year for 600.

“These grandparents are going above and beyond most of the time on a fixed income," said Erin Engelke, Sunbeam Family Services. "The holidays are a really stressful time. They have to decide: 'To pay my rent or buy gifts for my grandchildren?' So, we want to relieve that burden from them.”

The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, Oklahoma City Police, Triad volunteers, Midwest City Police, Oklahoma Recyclers Association and other community partners shop and wrap hundreds of gifts.

“They are asked, 'What do you want for Christmas?' Far too many kids put down: 'I want underwear or socks. I want just basic needs kind of stuff,' and it breaks your heart," Whetsel said. "Some of these kids are saying, 'I just need the basis.' Those are the ones who we get what’s on the list and something else.

Sunbeam offers other service for grandparents, including a back to school drive.

Each child is given a backpack filled with school supplies.

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