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BackStreets Sports Bar looking to fulfill Christmas wishes for its ‘adopted’ teens

By Staff | Dec 19, 2017

A Cape Coral venue is hoping to make the Christmas wishes of a few young adults come true.

For the first time, BackStreets Sports Bar adopted six local teens who recently aged out of Florida’s foster care system. Owner Shelly LaPaglia is raising funds to grant some of their holiday wishes.

“These kids are asking for things that are almost necessities,” she said.

One teen would like an adult bicycle to get around town, an upgrade from her “hot pink” child’s bicycle. Another who is enrolled in Florida Gulf Coast University’s psychology program would like an iPad to access the school portal, class assignments and such and keep up with the other students.

Others asked for gifts cards to grocery stores, while one asked for a video doorbell.

“He doesn’t live in a very safe neighborhood,” LaPaglia said.

“They’re asking for things that they need,” she added.

The goal is to raise $3,600 for the gifts.

“I figured out how much the wish list items would cost,” LaPaglia said, noting that she added extra Publix and Walmart gifts cards to the total so the recipients could buy food and needed items.

As of Tuesday, approximately $1,296 had been raised.

People can donate through Friday.

LaPaglia explained that organizers are shopping for the items as the donations come in.

“The items will then be wrapped and delivered to each of the teens,” she said.

LaPaglia came up with the idea from a friend, Kristi Newhouse, a licensed clinical social worker who has worked with children and families for over 15 years. LaPaglia explained that a few years ago, Newhouse began “adopting” a local family in need for the holidays each year and making their wishes come true.

During a conversation, LaPaglia expressed to Newhouse her interest in getting involved.

“I told her we would like to do more than one family,” she said.

Newhouse suggested recently aged-out fosters.

“I currently work with six young adults who have made the transition from foster care to young adulthood, living independently, while either attending college or working,” Newhouse said. “Each individual chosen for this special Christmas mission has exhibited perseverance and hope, despite having little support, little financial means and/or are living without having their family in their lives.”

“I believe we can help to make this Christmas extra special for this deserving population by helping to grant some of their Christmas wishes,” she added.

People can donate in-person at BackStreets or online via PayPal. To donate, visit www.backstreetssportsbar.com or www.facebook.com/BackStreetsSportsBar.

The recipients’ “wish list” letters can also be found online.

LaPaglia explained that this could become an annual holiday tradition for BackStreets.

“If we have the connection – I’m going to continue on yearly with this,” she said.

LaPaglia noted that the venue already has designed fundraisers on certain months for groups.

“We try to have something different every month,” she said. “I think this would be a nice addition.”

For more information about the fundraiser, visit the website or Facebook.

BackStreets Sports Bar is at 915 S.E. 47th Terrace.